An Arizona man has told authorities that he stabbed a teen to death because he felt “threatened” by the 17-year-old’s hip-hop music.
Michael Adams, 27, was charged with first-degree murder and is currently being held on $1m bail over the alleged attack of Elijah al-Amin. According to investigators the teen was buying a soda after getting off from a late shift, and had his back turned when Adams came up behind him and stabbed him in the neck.
According to court filings, Adams told investigators he heard Amin listening to rap in his car before entering a Circle K grocer in Peoria, Arizona, last Thursday, in the early hours of Fourth of July.
Adams claimed it was a music genre that made him feel “unsafe” because he had been attacked in the past by people who listen to rap: specifically, “blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans”. Adams, who is white, also called those who enjoyed rap a “threat to him and the community”. In the documents, he said he needed to be “proactive rather than reactive” to the “threat” presented by the victim.
The case reminded some experts and activists of the killing of Jordan Davis, a black Florida teen shot in 2016 by a white man after a dispute over the volume of music coming from his vehicle. Davis’s killer, Michael Dunn, was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The suspected Arizona attacker had been released from prison less than 48 hours prior to the incident, and his attorney laid blame with the department of corrections for putting a mentally ill man on the streets with no support.
During Adams’s initial appearance, attorney Jacie Cotterell told the judge that Adams had a history of mental illness, but the Arizona department of corrections released him with no medication and without transportation to mental health services.
“They released him to the streets with no holdover meds, no way to care for himself,” Cotterell said.
She continued: “This is a disabled person. And he’s been released into the world and left to fend for himself. And two days later, this is where we are.”
The state’s department of corrections countered in a statement that Adams was “not designated seriously mentally-ill”, and that “prior to his release, inmate Adams was provided contact information for services in the community such as continuing care, housing, welfare as well as other community resources.”
The department continued via spokesman Bill Lamoreaux: “The tragic death is terrible, and Mr Adams will have to answer for his alleged actions.”
Friends and family of Amin hugged Monday at the Islamic Community Center in Tempe, where prayers were held before burial in Maricopa county.
A modest makeshift memorial outside the convenience store where Al-Amin was stabbed was still erected on Tuesday, with a pair of white porcelain angels, fresh flowers and burning calendars including one dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Catholic patron saint of Mexico.
“Another one of our children has been murdered in a heinous and unprovoked way – the DOJ must investigate this hate crime immediately,” Democratic candidate Cory Booker wrote on his Twitter account Monday. “RIP Elijah. #JusticeForElijah.”
Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American civil rights activist from Brooklyn, New York, called the crime “outrageous” and said it recalled the 2012 killing of 17-year-old high school student Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida. “Rest in power Elijah Al-Amin,” she wrote.
Amin’s family is left grieving a teen who had “so many dreams” he wanted to accomplish, his father told News 12.
“You took a helluva kid,” he said. “Always willing to help kids, help people in general.”
“I miss my son.”