MOORHEAD — A suspect has been arrested in the Wednesday, May 5, shooting death of a 24-year-old taxi driver in south Moorhead, Minn.
Willie Alonzo Sparkman Jr., 18, was arrested Wednesday evening without incident and was being held in the Cass County Jail in Fargo, according to a Facebook post from the Moorhead Police Department.
Police found Abdullahi Mohamed Abdullahi with suspicious trauma to his body in a taxi cab after they responded to a single-vehicle crash around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 3000 block of 20th Street South in Moorhead.
The Facebook post by the Moorhead Police Department said Abdullahi was shot in what was called a "planned robbery." Police added that the two did not know each other.
Sparkman is expected to face charges of second-degree unintentional murder while committing a felony and first-degree aggravated robbery, although formal charges will be forthcoming from the Clay County Attorney's Office.
The Moorhead incident followed two armed robbery reports in Fargo, also apparently involving Sparkman. The first one was at about 11:50 p.m. Tuesday, May 4, in the 3100 block of 27th Street South. In that incident, a woman said she was approached by a man with a weapon who demanded her property. She screamed and wasn't injured as the suspect fled, Fargo police said.
In the second incident, about 2:50 a.m. Wednesday, officers responded to another armed robbery in the 1900 block of 21st Avenue South, where the victim also escaped uninjured, Fargo police said. The suspect in the second incident had a similar description to the man in the first attempted robbery and was believed to be Sparkman, whom Fargo police said they arrested on accusations of armed robbery.
In the apparently connected incidents, Moorhead police worked with agents from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Fargo police officers and detectives and the Clay County Sheriff's Department.
Moorhead Police Captain Deric Swenson said they conducted "several interviews" before the arrest was made Wednesday evening.
Abdullahi's body has been taken to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office in St. Paul for an autopsy, Swenson said. The Moorhead Police Department will release the cause of death after the autopsy, he said.
Police and BCA agents were at the scene Wednesday investigating the taxi, which appeared to be a minivan, in the ditch between a row of houses and railroad tracks. Along with the ditch, an apartment parking lot was taped off.
Police said they suspect Abdullahi was driving east when his vehicle drove over the roadway, crossed railroad tracks, and came to rest in a ditch on the east side of the tracks.
The vehicle in the ditch was labeled Taxi Leasing LLC, which is a partner of Doyle's Yellow Checker Cab in Fargo.
Taxi Leasing declined to comment. Management with Doyle's did not return messages left by Forum News Service.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by Abdullahi's family.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Moorhead Police Department at 701-451-7660. Tips can also be submitted to www.cityofmoorhead.com/departments/police/citizen-resources/tip-line.
Forum News Service reporters Barry Amundson and Matt Henson contributed to this story. Readers can reach Forum reporter April Baumgarten at 701-241-5417 or follow her on Twitter @aprilbaumsaway.