Minnesota man charged with vehicular homicide in crash that killed 5 young Muslim women

Radar indicated the black Cadillac Escalade driven by Derrick John Thompson was traveling 95 mph in a 55 mph zone, prosecutors said.

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The son of a former Minnesota state representative was charged Thursday with multiple counts of vehicular homicide after he speeded into and killed five young Muslim women who were preparing for a friend’s wedding, prosecutors announced.

Derrick John Thompson, 27, of Brooklyn Park, is charged with 10 counts of criminal vehicular homicide in the crash Friday night, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said in a statement.

Thompson is the son of former Minnesota state Rep. John Thompson.

While the charges have been filed, additional evidence is still being processed, including Thompson’s blood toxicology and DNA testing, Moriarty said.

The Hennepin County medical examiner identified the victims as Siham Adan Odhowa, 19, Sahra Liban Gesaade, 20, Sabiriin Mohamoud Ali, 17, Sagal Burhaan Hersi, 19, and Salma Mohamed Abdikadir, 20.

Sagal Burhaan Hersi, Siham Adan Odhowa, Sabiriin Mohamoud Ali, Sahra Liban Gesaade and Salma Mohamed Abdikadir.Dar Al Farooq Center via KARE

“Law enforcement responding to the scene of the crash also recovered a Glock 40 caliber semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine, along with significant quantities of fentanyl from Thompson’s vehicle," Moriarty said. She has been in discussions with the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI about possible federal charges related to the firearm and narcotics, the statement said.

Hennepin County jail records show Thompson was in custody Thursday. He was being held on probable cause of committing homicide, police said. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.

“The deaths of these five young women is devastating for their loved ones and has shaken our community,” Moriarty said.

“We value each of these young women’s lives and plan to seek a separate sentence for each life lost. I firmly believe in the potential for redemption and second chances, but Mr. Thompson has repeatedly engaged in extraordinarily dangerous criminal driving conduct related to apparent large-scale drug dealing,” she said. “He has caused immeasurable pain and suffering in multiple states and we will seek a significant sentence that appropriately reflects the devastation he has caused and ensures a lengthy period of incapacitation.”

Minneapolis police said in a statement that a state trooper witnessed a speeding driver shortly after 10 p.m. on Interstate 35. 

“Before a traffic stop could be attempted, the vehicle immediately exited the highway. The vehicle then proceeded through a red light at the intersection of Lake st. and 2nd ave. and crashed into another vehicle occupied by four adult females and one juvenile female. An adult male exited the vehicle and fled from the scene,” police said.

The five young women were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The radar on the trooper’s squad vehicle indicated a black Cadillac Escalade was traveling 95 mph in a 55 mph zone, prosecutors said. The rented Escalade was also weaving in and out of traffic lanes in a reckless manner before it T-boned the victims’ Honda Civic, which had the green light and was lawfully traveling westbound on East Lake Street through the intersection, prosecutors said.

A records check in Minnesota for Thompson includes more than a dozen criminal cases dating to 2014, including traffic violations. They include a 2017 felony charge for fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle and a 2018 case of driving after a license revocation. He was also charged with driving after a license suspension in 2014, records show.

Thompson's Minnesota driver’s license was revoked in 2018 after he was convicted of fleeing police in a motor vehicle. His license was reinstated in March.

Court records show Thompson also had a 2018 arrest in California, where he was charged with hit-and-run resulting in permanent injury or death. He was sentenced in 2020 to eight years in prison with credit for more than 300 days served, according to court records. It was not immediately clear Thursday why he was apparently released early.

Khalid Omar, the director of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, where the victims worshipped, said thousands of people attended their funeral Monday.

He said the reason so many were touched by the loss of their young lives is that “these girls truly represented who the Muslim community is in our state and had so much potential.”

The victims, who had Somali roots, were preparing for a friend’s wedding scheduled for Saturday, the day after the crash. The friends had just been at a Somali mall, where they bought last-minute wedding items, and were headed home when their vehicle was plowed into, Omar said.