Tardiness saves Christchurch mother and son from terrorist’s wrath

Hamza Abdi in an interview with Arab News. (AN photo by Daniel Nielsen)
Updated 17 March 2019

Tardiness saves Christchurch mother and son from terrorist’s wrath

  • Siman Omar was speaking with a friend at Al Noor Mosque's gate when she saw the gunman enter
  • Hamza Abdi was delayed from entering the mosque by minutes as he had to park his car

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: Being late for Friday prayers has saved the lives of two Christchurch residents.

Siman Omar, 52, and her son Hamza Abdi, 20, were running late for Friday prayers at Al Noor mosque. 

Abdi dropped his mother at the gate of the mosque and drove off to find somewhere to park the car.

Omar stopped to speak with a friend at the gate when she saw a short man wearing a helmet and carrying a big gun, striding through the gate. 

“He started shooting at the men taking their shoes off at the door. He just went ‘bam bam bam’.”

Omar ran and hid behind a car. She was visible ducking for cover in the background of alleged shooter Brenton Tarrant’s livestream of the event.

Omar said she never expected something like this could happen in Christchurch. She had been going to Friday prayers at the mosque since moving to New Zealand from Somalia 22 years ago

Her son Hamza Abdi said he parked his car on a side street near the mosque after dropping off his mum. 

“I was walking back and heard noises. I didn’t realize they were gun shots.”

A friend, “one of the Somali brothers,” says Abdi, told him to jump in his car. 

Still, Abdi, didn’t know what was going on until he saw a group of women run across Deans Ave, the road the mosque is located on.

His recall of events is hazy but he remembered getting out of the car and suddenly the car behind him was being shot at. 

The driver “just floored it” and Abdi ran. As he looked back, he could see the shooter putting his gun back in the car.

Abdi scampered over a fence and hid in a portable toilet. From there, he started calling people from his phone. 

“They didn’t believe me that this was happening.”

He went back to the mosque in search of his mother. The horror of what he encountered brings Abdi to tears.

“One man was holding a child in his arms. The kid had been shot. I just broke down.” 

Abdi was eventually reunited with his mother. They are now recovering at home in Christchurch, a place neither of them thought would ever experience something like this.

Wisconsin man who kidnapped Jayme Closs gets life in prison

In this March 27, 2019, file photo, Jake Patterson appears for a hearing at the Barron County Justice Center, in Barron, Wis. (AP)
Updated 52 min 11 sec ago

Wisconsin man who kidnapped Jayme Closs gets life in prison

  • Details of Jayme’s time in captivity have not been released, and no charges were brought by prosecutors in the county where she was held

BARRON, Wisconsin: A Wisconsin man was sentenced Friday to life in prison for kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents after the girl told the judge she that wanted him “locked up forever” for trying to steal her.
Jake Patterson, 21, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. He admitted he broke into Jayme’s home in October, gunned down her parents, James and Denise Closs, made off with her and held her under a bed in his remote cabin for 88 days before she made a daring escape.
Jayme didn’t appear at Patterson’s sentencing hearing Friday, but a family attorney read her first public statements about her ordeal to Judge James Babler.
“He thought that he could own me but he was wrong. I was smarter,” the statement said. “I was brave and he was not. ... He thought he could make me like him, but he was wrong. ... For 88 days he tried to steal me and he didn’t care who he hurt or who he killed to do that. He should be locked up forever.”
The judge called Patterson the “embodiment of evil” before sentencing him to consecutive life sentences without the possibility of release on the homicide charges. He also ordered Patterson to serve 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision on the kidnapping count.
“There’s no doubt in my mind you’re one of the most dangerous men to ever walk on this planet,” Babler said.
Patterson sat shaking his head during most of the hearing. Offered a chance to speak, he said he would do anything to take back what he did.
“I would die,” he said. “I would do absolutely anything ... to bring them back. I don’t care about me. I’m just so sorry. That’s all.”
The judge read statements that Patterson wrote in jail in which he said he had succumbed to fantasies about keeping a young girl and torturing and controlling her. He started looking for an opportunity to kidnap someone, even deciding he might want to take multiple girls and kill multiple families, according to the statements. Jayme was the first girl he saw after these thoughts entered his mind, he said.
Patterson’s attorneys, Richard Jones and Charles Glynn, told the judge that Patterson was isolated and that he overreacted to loneliness. They asked for leniency for Patterson, noting that he had pleaded guilty to spare Jayme and her family from a trial.
According to a criminal complaint, Patterson was driving to work in October when he spotted Jayme getting on a school bus near her rural home outside Barron, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Minneapolis. He decided then that “she was the girl he was going to take.”
District Attorney Brian Wright told the judge that Patterson traveled to the Closs home on two separate occasions to kidnap her but turned back because of activity at her house.
He finally drove to the house during the early morning hours of Oct. 15 dressed in black and carrying his father’s shotgun. He shot James Closs through a window in the front door, blasted the lock and moved inside.
He found the bathroom door locked. He broke the door down and discovered Jayme and her mother clinging to each other in the bathtub. He tied Jayme up with tape, then shot Denise Closs in the head as she sat next to her daughter.
He dragged Jayme through her father’s blood and out to his car. He threw her in the trunk and drove her to his cabin in Gordon in Douglas County, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northeast of Barron.
He kept her trapped under a bed using totes filled with weights and hit her with a curtain rod, Wright said.
“He kept her in constant fear, threatening her, telling her things would get worse,” Wright said.
Jayme finally escaped on Jan. 10 while Patterson was away. She flagged down a neighbor, who found someone to call police. Patterson was arrested minutes later as he returned to the cabin.
Patterson was also ordered to register as a sex offender, which under Wisconsin law may be required both for an actual sex offense or an attempted sexual offense. Details of Jayme’s time in captivity have not been released, and no charges were brought by prosecutors in the county where she was held.