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'You people are the real criminals,' MN man shouts as he gets 39 years for Somali hate attack

The 26-year-old lashed out at deputies as the sentence was handed down.
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The man who shot at a car filled with young Somali men in a racially-motivated attack shouted at the courtroom "this is injustice at its finest" as he was sentenced to a 39-year prison term.

Anthony Sawina's outburst came at the sentencing hearing at Hennepin County District Court on after he was found guilty of nine counts of assault and attempted first and second degree murder for the shooting on June 29 last year.

Sawina was heard saying "F*** Muslims" to the five men who were on their way to a mosque for Ramadan shortly after finishing up a game of basketball in Dinkytown. Sawina had just left a bar with some friends, and pulled out a gun after saying "I'm going to kill you all."

The 26-year-old from Lauderdale fired shots into the car, wounding two men and just missing the head of the driver, prosecutors said, before later looking online for information about DNA and guns.

As his strict sentence was handed down, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office said Sawina lashed out at deputies trying to remove him and shouted: "You people are the real criminals. People are killing each other and they get less time. This is injustice at its finest and you know it."

Just minutes before, Sawina had apologized to the Somali and Muslim communities for the attack.

The sentence was welcomed by the Center for American-Islamic Relations in Minnesota (CAIR-MN), with director Jaylani Hussein saying in a statement sent to GoMN: "As hate crimes targeting Muslims increase in our state, Minnesotans must all stand together against every one of these horrifying acts born of hatred and targeting innocent people."

"Today we are witnessing both the rise of sophisticated and organized anti-Muslim groups like ACT for America, as well as the sudden and impetuous assaults on Muslims growing all too common in our communities," he added.

Sentence is justified, judge says

The Star Tribune reports that the sentence was stricter than asked for by either side during the case.

During the case, his attorney had argued the prosecution had turned the case into a religious or racially motivated crime, instead arguing it was "an escalating situation and the intoxicated Sawina "acted in self-defense."

The court heard that Sawina also had previous convictions for 5th-degree assault and carrying a pistol without a permit, and when police searched his home they found a "veritable arsenal" of several guns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a non-working hand grenade.

Summing up, district court judge Kathryn Quaintance said the sentence of 468 months (minus the 327 days he's already served in jail) was justified given the act was racially motivated and, because he fired on the street during bar closing time, he endangered the lives of others besides the victims.

"Consequently, this sentence does not unduly exaggerate the criminality of his conduct," she said.

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