By Lynda L. Jones
A quick stop into the grocery store last week turned into more than what one local man was looking for, when he found himself faced with a potentially life versus death scenario at a local Aldi store. While standing in the checkout line, Nazir Al-Mujaahid says that he saw a man with a shotgun pointed at a cashier, demanding money. He also saw an unarmed security guard helpless with his hands up.
It seemed surreal at first, but once he was able to see that this was really happening, he heard the gunman yell for everyone in the store to stop moving, and the 20 plus customers held up their hands. Al-Mujaahid held up one hand, and with the other hand still at his side, he unholstered his semiautomatic 9mm Steyr handgun, cocked it at his side, and made eye contact another customer that was in the line of fire to move away from the gunman. Once, the customer was out of the way, he fired what he thought to be six or seven shots from about 20 feet away. The gunman fell into the exit door, dropped the gun and bag of money and fled the store. The police later learned that he had been driven to St. Joseph’s Hospital, and they were able to arrest him and his alledged accomplice. The two men, Dierre Cotton, 20 and Edyon Hibbler, 19, were charged with the Aldi robbery and two other holdups, a Radio Shack and a CVS store.
Al-Mujaahid said that he knew from his recent training that he needed to breathe, keep a clear head and commit to a decision.
“I am glad that he only sustained non-life threatening wounds, reportedly in the leg and across his forehead.” Al- Mujaahid stated during an exclusive one-on-one interview with The Milwaukee Courier Newspaper.
Al-Mujaahid selected The Courier for his first print interview, because he said that he trusted that the paper would give the most accurate and fair account of his experience. His intentions were to remain anonymous in the aftermath of this incident, but local televsion stations, and other mainstream media outlets made that extremely difficult.
“Many of the local media outlets harrassed my family members, my neighbors with no regard to the safety and privacy of me or my family.” Al-Mujaahid shared.
Even when he went in to officially speak with the District Attorney’s office last week, he was forced to come out of the DA’s office with his face covered. After meeting with the DA, he was able to learn more about the suspects, and their individual backgrounds, and when he learned that no one connected with the suspects were looking for revenge, he chose to come out publicly on his own terms.
“Later that same evening, I went and sat down with WISN Channel 12, however I later learned from family members that they were one of the media outlets harrassing my family and neighbors. Had I known that beforehand, I would not have gone to speak with them.” Al-Mujaahid said.
The next morning, he organized a press conference where he formally gave a detailed account of what happened.
In spite of his willingness to be open and answer questions publicly, some media outlets again attempted to paint him as a felon who somehow was able to get around the system and obtain his conceal and carry permit.
In response to those allegations, Al-Mujaahid says, “ In the early 1990’s I was a troubled youth. Considered ‘at-risk’ and did stupid, often illegal things at that point in my life. From about 15 – 16 years-old, I hung around and was part of the wrong crowd.”
He continued to elaborate on his past mistakes by saying, “Looking back at things that I did, I’m glad that no one got physically hurt. I’m grateful for the experiences as an at-risk youth, I was put on probation and after violating probation I was sent to Ethan Allen. I’m grateful for Ethan Allen because it allowed me to take time to reflect on my life and the steps I was taking. It allowed me to question my beliefs and concepts of the world and study without interruption from girls, video games, weed smoking, and other distractions.”
He also states that Ethan Allen served as the place where he studied comparative religion, and chose to accept Islam and become a Muslim, after being raised in a Christian home and educated in a Christian school from kindergarten through the 10th grade. This overall experience was a life changer for him, and he doesn’t try to hide it, because there were blessings in disguise along the way. Although he says that he doesn’t agree at all with the robber’s actions or tactics, he can understand that this young man and his alleged accomplice are struggling, and hopefully can learn from the incarceration time that they will most likely get. And again, that is why Al-Mujaahid says that he is glad the robber is still alive.
The aftermath of the Aldi incident has brought strong opinions as well, and the story could not escape the political debate that this new law brings. Al-Mujaahid has mostly received positive feedback from the public, although Aldi Store management has not weighed in at all. Not even, a complimentary bag of groceries for the “hero” as many are calling him.
Yet, on the other side of the debate, those who still have strong feeings opposing the law, don’t feel so grateful to Al-Mujaahid. State representative Leon Young’s released the following statement: “I am extremely grateful that no innocent people were injured during Monday’s incident and the suspects have been apprehended,” said Rep. Young. “However, circumstances in this instant raise questions about the effectiveness of the training requirements in the law, he added. Monday’s incident involved a concealed carry permit holder carrying a weapon into a business that had posted signage explicitly banned them. The permit holder fired upon the robbers, one of who sustained non-life threatening injuries.”
Al-Mujaahid states that he did not see the sign banning any weapons from the Aldi Store, and if he had seen the sign he would have not shopped at the store. He shared that many businesses have it wrong with the posting of these signs banning weapons…Why?…Because robbers are not going to follow the signs, and law abiding citizens that do follow the signs become targets for the robbers. Businesses posting the signs may find themselves easy targets for potential robbers in his opinion.
“I am a NRA member, a Conceal Carry advocate and even founded ccwadvocates.com. There is a stereotype that the CC person is a back woods loud angry White guy and that is just as disgusting as other stereotypes. The CC community has shown me that I’m welcome. I mean I’m Puerto Rican & African American and I’m also a MUSLIM, talk about not what you expected, but it goes to show that we all have the same concerns and that is our safety and well being of the society no matter your race, religion, or creed.” Al- Mujaahid concluded.