MOORHEAD — A Moorhead man forced a woman to drive to a bank at gunpoint and tried to get her to withdraw money from an ATM, court documents alleged.
Clay County prosecutors filed felony charges on Monday, Oct. 25, against 31-year-old Sharmake Mohamed Abdullahi. The charges are kidnapping, first-degree aggravated robbery, threats of violence and theft. He could face up to 25 years in prison.
A warrant was issued for his arrest. He was not in the Clay County Jail as of Tuesday morning.
According to court documents:
A woman told police who were dispatched around 11:13 a.m. on Oct. 19 to Gate City Bank in Moorhead that a man forced her at gunpoint to go to the bank. She was approached by the man when she pulled over in her vehicle on University Drive in Fargo.
The man knocked on the woman's car window. As she rolled it down, he pointed a handgun at her and told her to unlock her car. She complied, and the man got into her vehicle and told her to take them to Moorhead.
As she drove, the man went through her wallet and told her to go to Gate City Bank to withdraw money from an ATM, saying he needed money for rent.
The woman couldn't withdraw money from the ATM, so the man told her to drive away as he held the gun to her hip.
"The victim stated that she pulled over and told the suspect, 'You can kill me here.' The suspect then stated he did not want to shoot her and got out of the vehicle," the complaint said.
He took an iPhone and the woman's driver's license after threatening to find and kill her if she talked to police about the incident, according to the complaint.
Police were able to identify Abdullahi using surveillance footage and previous investigations involving him, the complaint said.
Abdullahi was described as a Black man wearing a blue hoodie and jeans. The woman said he was about 5 feet, 4 inches tall.
It appears the victim was random, Moorhead Capt. Deric Swenson said. Cases like this are rare for the area, he said.
The last he could recall was from 2008, when Vincent Paul Degidio Jr. kidnapped a woman in Fargo. Degidio forced the woman to drive to Moorhead, where he threatened to rape and kill her.
The woman escaped and ran into an O'Reilly Auto Parts store, but Degidio followed her, pistol-whipped her and robbed the store. He shot at police and fled on foot.
The woman stayed at O'Reilly as Degidio fled. He was shot by police after refusing to drop his weapon and was apprehended in the 3500 block of Eighth Avenue South.
He was sentenced in 2009 to serve nearly 29 years in federal prison for the incident.
Swenson said he couldn’t speak specifically to last week’s case, but he noted some situations like this are unavoidable.
Still, there are steps a person can take to prevent themselves from becoming a “target of opportunity,” he said.
People should pay attention to their surroundings, park in visible areas and trust their guts if they feel something is wrong, he said. If something seems out of place or if a person looks suspicious, avoid going near that area, he said.
That may mean going to a different ATM, Swenson added.
It’s also a good idea to let people know where you are going if you are running errands, he said.
Though kidnapping incidents like this are rare, the best thing a person can do if it happens to them is to be cooperative, Swenson said. Unless a person’s life is in danger, they should try to not be confrontational, he added.