Crime blotter: West Bank flower peddler in critical condition

Categories: Crime

Anyone who's spent a decent amount of time hanging out in the West Bank neighborhood of Minneapolis knows Patrick Ashang. For years the 47-year-old Nigerian-born flower salesman has been a fixture in area watering holes like the Viking Bar, the Red Sea, and Palmer's Bar, notable for his ever-present grin.

"He's a West Bank-er," says Russon Solomon, co-owner of the Red Sea. "He came here at least twice a day. He would take a rest here. It's very sad what happened to him."

On October 18th, Ashang was peddling flowers on Cedar Avenue when he was accosted by a 29-year-old man named Zaki Mohamed Sugule. According to a criminal complaint subsequently filed in Hennepin County District Court, Sugule demanded that Ashang sell him a rose for less than the standard price. When Ashang refused, Sugule allegedly picked up a large rock and threw it at the flower salesman's head, knocking him unconscious.

Ashang regained consciousness long enough to identify his assailant and was then taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment. Apparently his condition subsequently took a turn for the worse. Owing to confidentiality issues, HCMC will only report that he remains at the hospital, nearly two weeks later, in critical condition. According to the criminal complaint, Ashang suffered a skull fracture and a subdural hematoma.

Sugule was arrested and charged with felony counts of assault in the second and third degree. At the time of his arrest, according to the police, he smelled of alcohol and was chewing khat, a stimulant popular with Somali immigrants.

The attack has saddened West Bank denizens. "He was a friendly guy, always had a smile," says one regular patron of the Viking Bar. "It's disgusting that somebody would do that to him."

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