Portland police are working “around the clock” to investigate the shooting death of a young man, but the Muslim community in Maine’s largest city is frustrated with the slow progress in solving the death that they fear was motivated by hate.
Isahak Muse, 22, was shot to death inside a Milton Street home early Saturday morning, according to Portland police. He died before police and paramedics arrived at the scene.
On Friday, Interim Portland police Chief Vern Malloch said the investigation into Muse’s death is a “top priority of the Portland Police Department.”
“We have collected and are analyzing the evidence. We are confident that we have identified everyone who was present when Isahak was shot. There is much that needs to be done in order for us to establish exactly what happened that night. We are comparing the physical evidence to what we are being told happened,” Malloch said.
A city spokeswoman said last week police and city leaders have met with Portland’s Muslim and Somali community and the Muse family.
But members of the city’s Muslim community and the Muse family are frustrated with police department’s handling of the case and that no arrests have been made in the Deering High School graduate’s death.
“The police are not releasing any information as far as who was in the home, what happened, or who got shot. Obviously, my brother is the one that got shot, but we don’t know who shot him, or who pulled the trigger,” Muse’s sister, Awo Muse, told Essence magazine, a national outlet that covers news and culture for African-Americans.
Awo Muse told Essence that her brother was dating a girl who lived in the Milton Street home and that he may have gotten into a physical altercation before he died.
“My family is devastated. Isahak was the last to be born in our family and the first to die. Everybody dies. We’re Muslim people and we believe that every soul is going to be returned to God, but the way that he died is so tragic, I mean it’s not like it was an accident,” Awo Muse told Essence.
Hamdia Ahmed, a Portland activist, wrote in a Facebook post Saturday night that she is “making a commitment to fight for my friend. I will not stay silent until we are able to get answers.”
“Isahak Muse was a 22-year-old Muslim black man. He was loved by his family and friends. He was my friend, and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I can’t fully understand how anyone could harm such a beautiful person. I am simply heartbroken,” she wrote.
The Muse family has enlisted the services of civil rights attorney Justin A. Moore to investigate the Portland Police Department’s handling of the case. Moore is not registered with the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar and appears to be based in Texas, according to the Portland Press Herald.
Malloch told the Portland newspaper that no attorney for the Muse family has been in touch with his department and called the characterization that they haven’t released information to the family “unfair.”
“What I can say is that we’re very sympathetic toward the [Muse] family and the loss that they’ve suffered. … We’re being as transparent as we can be with any ongoing criminal investigation, especially one of this magnitude,” he told the Press Herald.