ROCHESTER, Minn. – We are learning new details surrounding a disturbing incident where a man is accused of gouging out another man’s eyeballs.
Mahad Aziz, 18, is facing a potential charge of first-degree assault in connection to the incident at 310 31st St, the address for the Square on 31st. NE where a 74-year-old man had his eyes taken out. The eyes, police said, were “nowhere to be found.”
A mugshot for Aziz has not been released due to Aziz going to a secure mental health facility once initially in jail.
Rochester police said while there was speculation that Aziz may have ingested the eyeballs, “there’s no evidence to suggest that” and that the eyes may have been absorbed into the man’s body.
An update on the victim’s condition was not available.
William Barnaba tells KIMT he knows the 74-year-old victim, and gets coffee with him every day.
"He don't have no enemies, he don't have no problem with anybody," Barnaba said.
People who live and visit the apartment complex where the incident happened say the suspect and victim are closely related.
"In Somalian country, it's very rare for the child to attack the parents," Barnaba said.
In this case, Barnaba thinks the cultural stigma surrounding mental illness may be to blame.
"In Africa, we don't really put it in consideration that mental illness is a problem," Barnaba said, "but after we came to the United States, we know it's a problem."
He mentions a cultural stigma, and lack of communication surrounding mental illness among those in the Somali community.
"A lot of mental illness, some people they don't talk," Barnaba said, "and you don't know exactly what is wrong with them, so I cannot blame the family that they never noticed that their child is sick."
Nada Abdelrahman has lived at the complex for five years with her kids. She agrees mental illness isn't talked about often among Somali families.
"In our culture, if someone - if he has something like that and he needs help, their families, they hide that," Abdelrahman said.
As for the victim, Barnaba hopes that he recovers.