Man killed in after-hours fight in N. Minneapolis called back respectful and generous
When Atinuke Ladipo received the call last month that his son had been seriously injured in a fight, the news did not fall early.
Even after she and her husband went to North Memorial Health Hospital and saw Awwal Ladipo, 25, lying motionless under a tangle of tubes, she couldn’t believe what had happened.
“So we prayed, we called all our pastors, all the Nigerian pastors in our community, even the Liberians,” she said. “It was like a horror movie, watching your son die, just sitting there and there was nothing I could do.”
Two days later he was dead.
Witnesses told police that Awwal was jumped by a group of men outside an after-hours party on July 24 near N. Lowry and Newton avenues in north Minneapolis. As he lay vulnerable, several of his attackers continued to punch and kick him, his mother said.
Ladipo said friends his son was with that night provided few other details about the beating. But several of them later reposted videos of the assault on Instagram. In one clip, an unidentified man is seen punching Awwal while holding him in a headlock. Someone offscreen can be heard telling the abuser to ‘let him go’. Another clip shows Awwal being thrown to the ground and left unconscious.
Police said they were investigating the case as a homicide; a preliminary report released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said the cause of death was blunt head trauma, but said how Awwal died is still under investigation.
But that doesn’t matter to Atinuke Ladipo, who has spoken of grief over surviving his firstborn.
He was in his prime, she said, after getting married last year and then starting an internship at a computer company in Burnsville. He also helped with the family’s home care business. Over the past few months, he had saved up to start his own business, with a plan to buy condos, refurbish and rent on Airbnb, she said.
Born in 1996 in Ibadan, Nigeria, he moved abroad with his family from an early age, first to Canada and then to Minnesota, where he graduated from St. Cloud State University.
But he always tried to stay connected to his West African roots, speaking Yoruba at home and filling his playlists with songs from Burna Boy, Wizkid and other rappers from the burgeoning Nigerian hip-hop scene.
Either way, he wasn’t a fighter, his mother said. She had raised him in the church, instilling the value of working hard and respecting his elders. An online fundraising page set up for the family features a Bible verse, Matthew 11:28: “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. “
“He’s a boy that people would ask if they could introduce him to their niece or daughter,” Atinuke said.
Awwal, who many people knew as “A-Boy,” used to greet people with a respectful greeting, his mother recalls, making him a favorite with family, friends and strangers. . He was also someone people turned to for help, she said.
He had helped his younger sister find an apartment as she prepared to start law school this fall. Her death left her “torn” and she decided to postpone her registration until next year, according to Atinuke.
“She’s hurt and she wanted revenge, she wanted justice,” Atinuke said.
She said detectives handling her son’s case told her they had identified at least one of the alleged assailants, who had retained a lawyer. But, she says, detectives haven’t provided her with many more details. On Monday, a police spokesperson said a 22-year-old man has been arrested and is awaiting charge. The Star Tribune generally does not identify suspects before they are charged.
Desperate for information, she forced herself to watch some of the clips of the assault posted on social media and immediately regretted it.
“It’s agony, it’s scary – it’s the way he died. I saw the video; it’s traumatic. No parent should see it,” she said. “They killed my son like he was rubbish.”
“The heart has been torn out”
Between funeral arrangements, she answered phone calls from well-wishers from overseas and from the family’s former home in British Columbia, Canada.
Everything, she said, not to think about what happened.
But even now she feels “my heart has been ripped out”.
“I can’t eat. I can’t sleep,” she said. “It’s a nightmare I’ll never wake up from – that’s how I feel.”
With his mother, Ladipo is survived by his father, Adebayo; wife, Lisa; siblings Tobi and Noah, and many uncles, aunts, cousins and nephews. Family and friends are planning a candlelight vigil between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tuesday at 3233 98th Circle N., Brooklyn Park. A funeral service on Wednesday will be broadcast live.