USA: Bond set at $2 million for suspect accused of killing A Somali-American Imam

Published: February 28, 2022

John Wooden appeared in court Monday, Feb. 28. He is charged with murder in the death of Imam Mohamed Hassan Adam.

A judge set bond at $2 million for a man accused of shooting and killing a religious leader beloved by the Central Ohio Somali community. John Wooden made his first court appearance Monday in the death of Mohammed Hassan Adam, who was discovered murdered on Christmas Eve last year.

Prosecutors called Wooden a “substantial risk to the community” and asked for at least $1 million in bond. A judge granted the $2 million bond in court today.

Wooden has spent roughly a third of his adult life behind bars, with a long crimnal record dating back to 1994. In 2010 he was convicted in federal court after an armed robbery of the McDonald’s restaurant in Upper Arlington. He had been released from federal prison for about nine months at the time of Adam’s murder.

Adam went missing for two days in December. Investigators said in the time that he was missing, Adam’s van was seen on surveillance tape driving through a neighborhood with a masked, gloved man at the wheel.

The imam was discovered days later, shot in the head, outside his van.

Investigators said when Wooden was arrested earlier this month, a gun matching the ballistics of the murder weapon was discovered.

Investigators have not said much about a motive, only saying the Wooden and Adam had met for some sort of sale. They did say that it does not appear the imam was singled out or targetted.

At least one more sought in imam’s death

Authorities say at least one more person is being sought following the arrest of a suspect in the shooting death of an Ohio religious leader last year.

Detective Earl Westfall, the lead investigator, said Friday that he believes at least one other person and perhaps more were involved in the killing, and the investigation is not over, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

Westfall said Wooden and Adam are believed to have been involved in a business transaction, about which he declined to provide details, and had minimal prior contact before the slaying. He said there was no indication that Adam was targeted because of his faith or because he was a member of the Somali community.

The Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced last week that an additional $10,000 in reward money had been collected by community leaders. The organization and its national headquarters earlier announced $10,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction, and said the reward now totaled $20,000.

Adam’s daughter, Shukri Hassan, called Thursday, the day family members learned of the arrest, a good day in a difficult time, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

“I hope that we receive justice,” she said. “We cannot sit down and sit back until that time.”

Family members and people from the communities he served began a search for Adam, ultimately finding his body, and several hundred members of the Islamic and Somali communities then gathered to mourn and pray as police investigated, the paper said. Hundreds also gathered later for his funeral.

Wooden also faces a federal charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Court documents don’t list a defense attorney in the state case and a listed phone number for the defendant couldn’t be found Sunday.

Kevin Durkin, lead defense attorney in the federal case, cited a prohibition on attorneys releasing information or opinions “that might interfere with a fair trial or otherwise prejudice the due administration of justice.” He said his client “is working with his attorneys to defend himself against these very serious charges.”

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