Gun offender murders man just 40 minutes after leaving court

Abdullah Arif, 48, of Stillwater was shot and killed last Thursday outside his tobacco shop in St. Paul. Arif’s murder is in part the result of a broken court system that has repeatedly failed to hold violent offenders accountable. Sadly, Arif’s assailant had walked out of a Ramsey County courtroom just 40 mins earlier, after appearing on a gun-related charge.  

If any other entity failed at public safety the way our Minnesota courts have been failing, there would be consequences. Instead, our court system continues its record-setting pace of departing from sentencing guidelines while obsessing over perceived “racial disparities” and “over-incarceration” — all at our collective expense.

A review of court records and media reports shows a disturbing lack of accountability by several district courts towards an out-of-control young man named Elias-Kareem Hany Aly, 21. Arguably, Aly should have never been free to kill Arif last week. The lack of accountability is stunning and unacceptable, but tragically not that uncommon. Here is a timeline assembled from available records — it covers just the few years since Aly has been in adult court:

  • 10/1/19 — Aly was arrested in Apple Valley after driving erratically and almost striking a car. Police recovered a felony amount of controlled substance. Aly was charged in Dakota County District Court with felony narcotics possession and driving while impaired. He was convicted on 1/29/21 and sentenced to probation for three years (through 1/29/24). He failed to pay fines imposed in the case, and also failed to abide by conditions of his probation officer. Aly was arrested for probation violation on 8/26/22 and conditionally released by the court four days later, to continue his probation.
  • 3/10/20 — While on conditional release from the Apple Valley felony above, Lakeville police attempted to stop Aly as part of a fraud complaint outside a bank. Aly fled and led police on a chase before crashing the car. He was charged with felony Fleeing a Police Officer in a Motor Vehicle, and conditionally released. Aly failed to abide by conditions of his probation officer. Aly was arrested for probation violation contemporaneously with the probation violation in the Apple Valley case. Despite two felony cases with probation violations, Aly was again conditionally released. Aly was convicted of the Lakeville Fleeing case at the same time as his Apple Valley felony narcotics case — receiving 3 years’ probation through 1/29/24. He has failed to pay fines imposed in the case.
  • Sometime in 2020, Aly was charged with gross misdemeanor firearms possession. Case information for this incident is unavailable in the court records system. Aly was on conditional release for this case at the time of Arif’s murder.
  • On 5/15/20, while on probation for the two felony cases above, and possibly on conditional release from the 2020 gross misdemeanor firearms case, Aly was arrested in Nicollet County for speeding 80 MPH in a 60 MPH zone and possessing marijuana in a motor vehicle. Aly was cited for both crimes and release. He failed to appear in court on the case at all and has yet to pay over $400 in criminal fines associated with the case. Despite this, Aly faced no additional consequences for these failures when sentenced in the above felony cases from Dakota County.
  • 6/13/22 — While on probation for two felonies and after failing to appear at all on the Nicollet County misdemeanors, Aly was arrested after he and two others committed a drive-by shooting in St. Paul. During this incident, the three men fired approximately 48 shots at two apartment buildings, sending bullets through several apartment windows and walls and striking several cars. Responding police attempted to pull Aly and the others over and they fled, leading police in a chase exceeding 100 MPH before crashing. Police recovered four fully automatic machine pistols, three of which were reported stolen. The car the three had committed the drive-by shooting and fled in was also stolen. Despite being on probation for the two felonies and other cases above and being charged with his role in this significant drive-by shooting, the Ramsey County District Court allowed Aly to bond out of custody on June 15. Read more about this shooting in a piece by Alpha News here.
  • 8/24/22 — If the court had any misgivings about Aly being on the street, it failed to take any action when Aly was arrested by the State Patrol for driving 101 MPH in a 60 MPH zone on 393 in Minnetonka during the mid-day. Aly was cited and released and has failed to appear in court on this case. Associated fines have gone to “collections.” Despite this, no action has been taken by either the Ramsey or Dakota County District Courts, which have Aly under supervision. The average Minnesotan would understandably believe that if they were out on bond for a drive-by shooting, and on probation for two other felonies, they would be signing their prison sentence by driving 101 MPH. The average Minnesotan would be sadly mistaken.
  • 2/16/23 — According to the Pioneer Press report found here, Aly made a court appearance on the 2020 firearm possession case. Despite all the criminal activity documented above, Aly was allowed to remain on conditional release following the hearing. Just 40 minutes later, Aly entered Arif’s tobacco shop wearing a balaclava face mask and refused to remove it when Arif asked him to. Aly then pulled the store door chime down and stole it as he left the store. Arif attempted to confront Aly and Aly shot Arif immediately. Aly was arrested in Minneapolis the next day.

It is unacceptable in 2023 for our court system to repeatedly fail to connect the dots with violent offenders like Aly. Based on Aly’s actions and his failure to abide by probation and conditions of release, he should have never been on the street last week. The lack of accountability imposed on Aly by four different district courts has clearly taught him that there are no consequences to any of his actions. 

Tragically, Mr. Arif paid the price for the lessons Aly learned in several Minnesota courts.