FBI investigates Somali teen's hit-and-run death in Missouri as possible hate crime

FBI Investigating Teen's Death as Potential Hate Crime
FBI Investigating Teen's Death as Potential Hate Crime

(Reuters) - The FBI is investigating the hit-and-run death of a 15-year-old boy struck while leaving the Somali Center of Kansas City as a possible hate crime, local authorities said on Friday.

An SUV crashed into the teenager, who is of Somali descent, on Thursday evening as he was leaving the center, possibly intentionally, and the driver was arrested after he fled the scene on foot, Kansas City Police Sergeant Kari Thompson said.

The teenager was taken to a hospital, where he died, Thompson said. Police did not identify the boy or the SUV's driver, who was alone in the vehicle.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said. An FBI agent was at the scene Thursday night, and the FBI is working with Kansas City police, she said.

The Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) requested a federal probe of the crash, identifying the teenager as Muslim.

"We again ask local, state and national religious and political leaders to speak out against the rising level of anti-Muslim rhetoric in our society, which can and does lead to such violent incidents," CAIR-Kansas Chairman Moussa Elbayoumy said in a statement.

Somali Center officials have said that a man has threatened the local Muslim community for months, though it is not clear if the vehicle's driver was that person, the council said.

Thompson said a prosecutor is expected to decide whether to file criminal charges against the driver by late Friday.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City)