Refugee Fled Violence in Africa, Becomes Gunshot Victim in Iowa

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Driving through the Des Moines community for Daudi Mmele will never be the same.  “I heard the sounds of the gun,” said Mmele.

Saturday afternoon, while driving home along 10th Street and Forest Avenue in Des Moines, Mmele was shot in broad daylight.  “The gun should have shot me in the head but because I was lying on the seat, the gun shot me on the arm,” he said.

A local hospital was able to remove the bullet.  Mmele said, “I could see a lot of blood.”

Police still have no motive and no suspect but say Mmele was not an intentional target.  “That is what is making me scared because I don’t know where it was coming from,” Mmele said.

With his family still trying to get settled in a country foreign to them, Mmele’s injury is taking him away from work.  “Now I’m not working.  I don`t have the power to go to my job.  When we work we always use the right hand, so I am unable to work,” he said.

Living paycheck to paycheck, his brother Solomon Belss says it is income the family needs.  “His assistance will be less in the family, so we need to get compensation for the days he`s not working,” said Belss.

Mmele’s injury has brought the family face to face with some of the same violence they fought so hard to flee three years ago in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  “When we came to the United States, it was for safety reasons.  We come from Africa.  Before we came to the U.S., we were told that the United States is a really safe place,” Belss said.

They are thankful for first responders and the hospital but are worried about having to pay for their service.  Belss said, “There will be coming a bill from the hospital.”

Those are problems Mmele and his family will be willing to deal with, given the alternative.  “That could have been my last day in life,” said Mmele.


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