Columbus Woman’s Future Shaped by West Side Apartment Building Shooting, What Happened There!

Columbus Woman's Future Shaped by West Side Apartment Building Shooting, What Happened There!

Kassim Omar is haunted by the cries. She is still aware of the high-pitched cries, “Kassim is dead! Kassim passed away.”

Omar was sitting on a stoop outside her apartment on Columbus’s West Side when she heard a gunshot, followed immediately by another, and then everything went dark.

“I’m going to pass away. The 27-year-old recalls thinking, “I’m not going to make it,” as soon as she realized she had been hit by a gunshot. “I could hear everybody, but I couldn’t open my eyes.”

Her neighbors’ terrified cries and 911 calls were sometimes incomprehensible to 911 dispatchers due to their hysterical shouts for assistance and sobs of terror.

Omar attempted, but he was immobile. She lost consciousness and was unable to see or hear at all.

Her life had changed irrevocably by the time she woke up, several hours later.

Columbus Woman's Future Shaped by West Side Apartment Building Shooting, What Happened There!

Kassim Omar’s present life and her aspirations for the future

Omar is paralyzed from her neck down and is lying in bed in a nursing facility on Columbus’s Far East Side, two years after the shooting on June 23, 2022, which took place across the city. She described herself as existing in what seems like limbo, floating between her previous life and an unidentified future chapter.

For her to relocate to Columbus and share a house with her relatives, who are currently housed in a refugee camp in Kenya, she is waiting for them.


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She was shot early that June morning by two guys who also lived in the Wedgewood Village Apartments, but according to Omar, it was just one instance in a long history of prejudice and hatred she had to deal with.

Born in 1995 in Kismayo, Somalia, Omar is a 29-year-old transgender woman who was formerly a refugee. She claimed that many individuals in her native country, where LGBTQ+ people are frequently raped, assaulted, and occasionally even killed because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, knew from an early age that she was gay.

Because of “the way I talk, the way I move,” people could tell she was gay, according to Omar. “When people say, ‘You’re gay, you’re gay,’ I would never argue against it. “Yes,” I would respond.

Omar claimed that the prejudice had begun when she was just nine or ten years old. She left Somalia by herself and arrived in Kenya, where she settled in a camp for refugees along with almost 255,000 other victims of civil conflict.

Omar said that because of her sexual orientation, she was burned, raped, and slashed with knives by other camp residents at Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp while she was a teenager.

She landed in Houston in 2015 when the United Nations expedited her resettlement process, but she claimed the hostility persisted.

Columbus Woman's Future Shaped by West Side Apartment Building Shooting, What Happened There!

That same year, she relocated to Columbus from Texas, where she spent four years residing at the Wedgewood Village Apartments before relocating to the North Side in 2019.

After being raped in 2017, Omar contacted Lara Downing, a victim’s advocate and social worker at Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS). Downing assisted Omar in creating a safety plan and has continued to work with her ever since. They have since become friends.


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After an altercation at a neighborhood store in which Omar assaulted and hit the owner, who she said made anti-gay remarks, Omar was found guilty of assault in 2018. After entering a guilty plea, Omar received a 180-day jail sentence.

She returned to Wedgewood Apartments in 2022 to live with friends and family, but she soon claimed that children had begun to harass her due to her gender identity.

“When I came to Columbus, I thought my life was going to change,” she stated.

“I never imagined that I would be shot.”

Omar expressed her desire to move past the abuse and discrimination she experienced and accept her true self. However, she claimed that simply by going about her daily business in Columbus, she was harassed constantly.

She added that she largely disregarded the people who made fun of and harassed her. However, Omar claimed that the week before she was shot, a 12-year-old child who resided in her complex—whom The Dispatch is withholding his name due to his age—threatened her with a pistol, called her a homophobe, and expressed his dislike for her.

He had said, “I will shoot you now,” Omar remembered. I’ll carry this out. You have no significance. How do you intend to proceed? “I’ll take a shot to the face.”

Omar claimed the youngster had been berating her for weeks, calling her derogatory names for gay people, and claiming he detested her and that she ought to go. She claimed that when the boy harassed her, she phoned the police multiple times. However, he persisted.

Omar feels that she was the victim of a hate crime committed by the two youths who shot her, Ali Abdullahi, then 16 years old, and the 12-year-old, because they disapproved of her gender identity and expression.

Based on police documents, the 12-year-old boy informed authorities that Abdullahi shot Omar due of the “gay stuff.”

“I had just taken a seat. When Omar was shot, he said, “They came behind my back.” “I knew they were in the building, but I never thought they were going to shoot me.”

In her narrative, Omar intended to share.

Omar is now largely bedridden in what she describes as a kind of captivity, her life irrevocably altered by the bullet. She claimed that in the meantime, the people who had shot her had been in custody for significantly less time, if at all.

Detectives from Columbus police examined two suspects, four witnesses, and three first responders in the two weeks that followed the incident. In an effort to gather evidence, they also carried out search warrants on residences and cell phones.

According to the case file from the Columbus Division of Police’s shooting investigation, Abdullahi and the 12-year-old kid were taken into custody and charged with felonious assault a few days after the shooting.

Abdullahi appeared in Franklin County Common Pleas Court as an adult. According to court documents, he entered a guilty plea to felonious assault with a firearms specification and received a seven-year prison sentence in February 2023.

The 12-year-old youngster was the subject of proceedings to establish his competency to stand trial due to his age. The youngster, now 14 years old, was found incompetent by a Franklin County juvenile judge, but Chris Clark, the lead juvenile prosecutor in the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office, stated he plans to try the boy again when he’s older.

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Omar was receiving treatment for several days at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, Downtown, while the police investigation and judicial hearings were going on. After that, she was sent to a care facility in Heath, then a few months later, to another one in Dublin. Ultimately, in August 2023, she relocated to her current location on the Far East Side.

Omar claims she was never questioned by police or prosecutors, and the 338-page Columbus police case file on her shooting does not contain an interview with her.

According to the police file, she was unconscious when a detective tried to speak with her at the hospital a few hours after the shooting.

According to police records, on June 28, 2022, the main detective in the case got in touch with Omar’s nurse at Grant and was informed that Omar was conscious and could respond to questions with a yes or no. However, there is no evidence to suggest that investigators did not go speak with her at that time.

The Columbus Division of Police refused to provide The Dispatch with the contact information of any investigators.

Through email, police spokesperson Sgt. James Fuqua answered questions about why Omar wasn’t interviewed by detectives during the case investigation, stating that Omar was “unable to speak due to the severity of the injuries (Omar) sustained in the shooting.”

David Sarni, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, expressed surprise that Omar was not questioned by police during the inquiry, but he believes that police officers must continue their efforts.

“Interviewing a victim is a must no matter what you do,” stated Sarni, a 27-year investigator with the New York City Police Department. It’s similar to “Investigations 101.”

Sarni claimed to have worked as a detective and to have encountered victims, like Omar, who were first mute or intubated. He claimed that in certain situations, he visited the patient often and spoke with hospital staff members nonstop to find out when they were able to communicate.

“The victim should have had ongoing follow-up,” he stated. “An investigation has dropped significantly.”

According to Sarni, police should always deal with victims first and last when working on a case because they are their advocates.

According to Fuqua, the prosecutor indicated that an in-person interview with Omar wasn’t required.

Clark claimed that because he couldn’t locate Omar, she wasn’t questioned or involved in any court procedures. He claimed he was unable to find out from anyone where Grant had freed her.

“Nobody asked me, no one came to me,” Omar remarked. “I wish to inform them of how I was shot.” Even though it was wrong, no one questioned me.”

Omar expressed her ire at the fact that, while she will be paralyzed for the rest of her life, one of the suspects in her case is only serving a seven-year prison sentence and the other has been released since it was determined he was not able to stand trial. She expressed her fury at the fact that she was never given the opportunity to receive full justice, while the boys were interviewed by police authorities.

She predicted that Abdullahi and the younger boy would emerge. “… (But) the rest of my life, I’m going to be like this.”

“I don’t deserve this. Nobody deserves this.”

Even though he is disabled, Omar continues.

Her favorite rappers, Rod Wave, Young Dolph, and Kid Cudi, are what she listens to on a regular basis.

She engages in lively conversation with her parents and her seven siblings, who reside in the Kenyan refugee camp of Dadaab. Via a video call, they converse about their life, how much they miss one other, and what it will be like to be with her in America.

Omar smiles and laughs at their conversations. When she is eventually allowed to relocate here, she wants to teach her mother English, and Downing and CRIS are working to expedite Omar’s family case so that they can visit and take care of her.

But most of all, Omar waits.

In 2017, Omar requested that her parents and siblings come to live with her in the US. She continues to hope that they will soon join her, even though their case is still pending while it goes through the numerous forms, exams, interviews, and other procedures that are part of the American refugee resettlement process.

Omar claimed that she had a musical and dancing life in Columbus before to being shot.

Her goal was to receive vocal instruction. She had danced at nearby Somali weddings, her hips thumping to the quick pace. There are videos of her dancing and singing on YouTube.

On a recent afternoon, Omar stated, “I miss (the life I had) before I got shot,” from her room. “I used to put on makeup. I used to frequent the club. I used to enjoy myself. That’s what I miss. Getting food and driving about. All of that is missed. Life is so fleeting.”

“I’m just somebody paralyzed, sleeping on a bed,” Omar remarked at this point.

Omar stated that she felt the way she was treated because of her gender identification was wrong and that is why she wants other people to know what happened to her.

Saying, “Nobody deserves this,” she spoke. “I don’t deserve this.”

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