Franklin County Sheriff's Ramping Up Patrols Of Somali Neighborhoods

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UPDATED: Thursday June 26, 2014 6:36 PM

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office says it will add patrols after Somali immigrants complained they are being bullied, assaulted, harassed and robbed by groups of adolescents who are terrorizing neighborhoods.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has assigned deputies to patrol four apartment complexes in North Columbus at least twice a shift, or six times a day.

These four neighborhoods are home to hundreds of Somali immigrants who say they're being targeted by thugs.  “They are being picked on them, stealing their phones, punching little kids and overall bullying,” says Abdi Nafi Hussein, a resident of the neighborhood.

The violence hit a climax on June 13, when Columbus police say a bullet sailed through a window and struck a 15-year-old girl in the head.

Hussein says the victim was like a sister to him.  "She got shot and nobody knew. She was in her room. It hit her in the cheek. It went in her brain.  Everybody's feeling sad.”

The teenage girl is still hospitalized and the gunman has not been caught.

Sheriff's investigators say groups of informal gangs made up of teens and young adults are targeting Somalis. The Sheriff says leaders of the Somalian community believe they're being treated like easy prey because immigrants don't always understand American law allows acts of self-defense.  In addition to a languor barrier when Somalis try to report a crime. 

The sheriff hopes the added patrols are enough to convince the bad guys to back off.

Sheriff's investigators say they suspect the aggressors are outsiders coming to the complexes to terrorize Somali immigrants who fled violence in their homeland, only to face it again here in their new home in North Columbus.

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