Seventeen-year-old Elijah Al-Amin was stabbed and had his throat slit at an Arizona convenience store by a man who told police he felt “unsafe” because the teen was listening to rap music, investigators allege.
Local police responded to reports of a stabbing at a Circle K convenience store and gas station around 1:42 a.m. on July 4 in Preoria, which is near Phoenix, and found Al-Amin with severe wounds. The teen was subsequently rushed to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Officers located and arrested Michael Paul Adams, 27, shortly afterwards in the nearby area and a weapon was recovered, said police in a statement.
Adams had been released from jail only two days prior, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections. He had been serving time for aggravated assault and charges related to theft.
Adams told detectives the teen did not do or say anything to threaten him, but that he felt “unsafe” because Al-Amin was listening to rap music in his car prior to entering the convenience store.
Adams admitted to detectives that he stabbed the teen in the back and slit his throat before leaving the store because “in the past he had been attacked by people (Blacks, Hispanics and Native American[s]) who listened to rap music and that people who listen to rap music are a threat to him and the community,” according to a probable-cause statement obtained by KPHO/KTVK.
Adams has been charged with first-degree murder and is being held in the Arizona Maricopa County Jail in lieu of US$1 million bail.
On Twitter, Al-Amin’s murder sparked an international cry for justice, with the hashtag #JusticeForElijah trending heavily on Monday after details of the case became public.
“This is beyond horrific & must be investigated as a hate crime by DOJ” wrote Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “We must stand united against hate & demand stronger hate crimes law & enforcement.”
A statement from Adams’ lawyer, who is no longer representing him, saying that the accused suffered from mental illness, also prompted a debate over whether the argument for leniency due to mental health issues would have been brought up if the suspect and the victim’s races were switched.
A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Corrections, Andrew Wilder, said that Adams was “not designated seriously mentally ill,” and that the teen’s “tragic death is terrible, and Mr. Adams will have to answer for his alleged actions.”
The allegations against Adams have not been proven in court.
Image: Elijah Al-Amin and Michael Paul Adams (L-R).