Eight-year-old boy describes being stabbed Saturday night in Boise
The two little boys with big brown eyes and bright smiles could not agree on the details. But then again, brothers argue.
Zine Jalil, age 8, was certain it took Boise police five minutes to arrive at the Wylie Street Station Apartments, after a knife-wielding attacker stabbed him and eight other residents. Older brother Siraj, age 9, shook his head. “They actually came in two minutes.”
The ambulance ride to St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center took three minutes, Zine insisted Monday afternoon. Siraj, who accompanied his brother, was sure it was faster than that. “They went very fast,” Siraj said, grinning, “out of the speed limit of the street.”
Missing from the boys' banter was the horror they had witnessed Saturday night. Shortly before 9 p.m., an attacker ran through a child's birthday party at the Boise apartment complex just off State Street, stabbing six children and three adults.
One of the victims, the little girl celebrating her third birthday, died Monday. Authorities accused 30-year-old Timmy Earl Kinner Jr. of the attack. The Ada County prosecutor charged the California resident, who had tangled with the law for years, with a single count of first-degree murder and eight felony counts of aggravated battery. He could face additional prison time for the use of a deadly weapon.
Zine was discharged from St. Luke's on Sunday, with a bandage and a pattern of dark bruises on his wounded belly, free to go home to the 40-year-old, 40-unit apartment complex where refugees from Ethiopia, Iraq and Syria had found respite from violence in their homelands. The Jalil brothers and their mother are refugees from Iraq.
Normally, it's a boisterous place, residents said, with children running around on the lawn, in the playground and the parking lot. During the day Monday, though, it was all but deserted. Bicycles lay, unused, on the neatly trimmed grass. A pair of chihuahuas yipped from second-story balcony. Many residents weren't home or didn't answer their doors.
A group of teachers from Taft Elementary School, which many of the complex's children attend, wandered the grounds, offering water, snacks and hugs. On the sidewalk near the main entrance, well-wishers had written messages like "United We Stand," "We Stand with You" and "Love Wins" in chalk. A box of food decorated with hearts, a stuffed elephant and a pot of flowers sat on the curb just inside the entrance.
Circular marks on a sidewalk showed where blood had been scrubbed away.
Zine (pronounced zane) and Siraj said they had seen Kinner in the apartment complex over the last week or so, riding a bike. A tenant at Wylie Street Station had allowed him to stay at her apartment, police said, but later told him he had to leave. Kids in the complex told the brothers that Kinner had returned early on the day of the attack and warned them, "You'll see what will happen later."
The Jalil kids did not attend the little girl's party. Instead, Zine went to the Dollar Tree store across State Street with another neighbor in the building. Ekhlas Al Khudhur, 23, needed to get milk and food for her family. She was carrying her daughter, 2-year-old Miral Ghaleb, when they returned to find the unimaginable occurring before their eyes.
"They were coming back, and Zine got stabbed first, and then he went to my mom and told her that Ekhlas died," Siraj recounted. "She wasn't actually dead. She got 13 or 15 stabs."
A relative, Anmar Lafta, picked up the story from Siraj. "When Zine went to his mom to tell her what happened, this guy saw Zine and ran to try to stab him again," in the family's apartment, Lafta said. "And he saw Zine's mom and stabbed her and stabbed his sister."
Lafta brought the boys to St. Luke's on Monday to visit their sister, Teba, age 6. Surgeons had operated on the little girl twice Sunday to repair damage the stabber had caused to her liver and pancreas. Across town at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, their mother, Miada Jasim, 37, was recuperating after being stabbed in the neck.
"She's getting better," Zine said. "She was paralyzed yesterday, but now she can move a little bit."
Part of the horror Saturday night was that so many children witnessed the bloody rampage. Esrom Habte, age 12, watched as the attack unfolded.
"We saw a killer, and we didn't want to be stabbed," he said. He and his brother ran for safety as the attacker made his way through the complex. "We saw him saying, like, bad words and stabbing a grown-up, very hard and a lot of times."
Shane Latham was wrapping up dinner just down State Street at Flying Pie Pizzaria as the attack unfolded Saturday night. He had dropped off a friend and was headed back to his girlfriend's apartment on the east side of Wylie Street Station when police cars sped by.
He arrived to find the roads clogged with police cars and fire engines and "a lot of commotion." People were crying. Blood was everywhere. A woman was lying injured on a small triangle of grass near his girlfriend's apartment. She was pale. He couldn't tell at first if she was alive.
Latham said he had mixed emotions about missing the melee by just a few minutes. On one hand, he said, he carries a pistol and he's skilled enough to stop an attacker. On the other, he was with his girlfriend's 8- and 13-year-old sons, who had been invited to the birthday party.
"I'm glad they weren't here, but I wish I was," Latham said. "I would've shot his ass."
Latham didn't think the attacker was motivated by hatred for refugees.
"It's just a crazy guy," he said. "They're everywhere. That's why I carry."
Still, it was a shock.
"Boise's the most friendly town I've been in," Latham said. "You come here, it's like, 'No worries." And then you see something like this happen, and it's like, 'I've got to worry a little."
On Monday, Al Khudhur was recuperating at Saint Alphonsus, as was another adult victim, Ahmad Manla. Little Miral, Al Khudhur's 2-year-old daughter, was at St. Luke's, being treated for stab wounds to the pancreas and just above her heart, Lafta said.
Ruya Kadir, the birthday girl who turned 3 on Saturday, wasn't so lucky. Because her wounds were too extensive to be treated in Boise, she was airlifted to Salt Lake City. She died there Monday. Her family has asked for privacy, according to the International Rescue Committee, a refugee relief organization.
Ruya and her mother fled violence in Ethiopia in December 2015 and were resettled in Boise by the IRC. The little girl's father is in Turkey.
Ruya flourished in Boise's safe environs. David Miliband, the IRC's president and CEO, said her caseworkers described her as "a child who sparkled when she walked into a room."
Always the center of attention, Ruya loved pink and Disney princesses. She was, Miliband said, her mother's princess.
On Monday, Zine and Siraj struggled to understand.
"Right when she got stabbed, she got dead?" the younger boy asked.
"Did she even make it all the way to Utah?" his older brother wondered.
"Was she crying?" Zine asked. "Then she fell asleep and got dead?"