AUBURN — Ahmed Guled, an elderly man who fled Somalia to escape war, was shaken, in pain and confused Monday about why he was beaten and stabbed by a group of five men outside his home last week.
A few hours after being released from the hospital Monday, Guled, 73, sat in his living room surrounded by family.
He had stab wounds to his back and side. His nose, his chin, the top of his head was bruised. His stomach was swollen from being kicked. "I can't stand. I can't sleep. I can't breathe well," Guled said through an interpreter. "I'm very down emotionally and spiritually. I feel scared. I'm old. I not a person who can defend myself. I feel like the whole world is coming down on me."
The president of the African Immigrants Association, Said Mohamud, released details about Thursday's stabbing, saying it's important the community know what happened to an elderly person.
Mohamud said he's confident "justice will prevail" and those who committed the crime will be arrested. The attack is not believed to be racially motivated, but Mohamud said his group is worried about growing gang violence.
Auburn police are investigating.
"Any incident like this we take seriously," Auburn police Chief Phil Crowell said Monday. "Detective Chad Syphers has been working this investigation since Thursday night," he said. "We have some suspects we're looking at."
Auburn is a safe community, Crowell said, but added an incident like this can make some wonder if they are safe. Police have heard concerns about gang violence, but have not determined that the attack is related to such activity. "We're seeing no trends regarding gang violence," the chief said.
According to the victim, the trouble began Wednesday when a Somali man he knows came to him asking him to buy a junk car.
The man, who is in his 20s, towed the car to Guled's home. "He told me 'This car is broken. My family is moving to Boston. Will you please buy this car?' We agreed on $150. I paid him $150 and asked him to bring the title," Guled said.
Guled said he planned to give the old Toyota to a son or daughter who needed a vehicle. The man said he'd return with the title, he had to go home to retrieve it.
Several hours later he had not returned. Guled contacted the man's mother and told her what happened. She gave Guled her son's number. The next morning Guled called him asking for his money back or the title.
"He said some very derogatory language and said, 'You'll see what happens to you. I will not give you that money back,'" Guled said.
Around 8 p.m. Thursday the Somali man knocked on the door at their home at Androscoggin Apartments on Northern Avenue, asking for Guled. His wife, Marian Bunham, said her husband was not home. An hour later several American men knocked on her door, telling her they were police and said she had to open the door, she said. She did not, Bunham said. The men left when she told them she was calling police.
Around 10 p.m. Guled returned home. After taking two or three steps out of his car, five men surrounded him: the young Somali who sold him the car and four white Americans he did not know, Guled said.
One had a gun and pointed it at his head. "I told them 'I'm unarmed,'" Guled said.
They didn't shoot, but turned the gun around and beat him with the back of it. "I lost a tooth," he said. "They started beating me, kicking me, stabbing me. ... I feared for my life."
By the time it was over Guled said he was lying on the ground with three to four stab wounds and multiple injuries. They took his money, his credit cards, identification and wallet, he said.
After police arrived, Guled was taken to the hospital where he remained until Monday.
"That is all I know," he said.
He doesn't understand why he was beaten.
"It was a senseless attack," he said. "There was nothing between us" he said of the Somali man. "I was not expecting he would attack me or that he would use gang members against me."
Guled said he's lived in Auburn for two years. He fled Somali to escape civil war after losing several children and his property.
The immigrant association said this kind of attack leaves refugees, who suffer the aftereffects of war, feeling terrified. "They need peace," said Abdi Omar of the African Immigrants Association.