Family still looking for answers 1 year after MN National Guardsman killed in Marcy-Holmes neighborhood

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Friends say Abdoulaye Cisse was special: smart, talented and always with a ready smile.

“Great guy, smiley kid, very helpful,” said Alioune Samb, a family friend. “Always in a good mood, always willing to help.”

Life was good for Cisse in October of 2019. His birthday was coming up, and after joining the Minnesota National Guard, he was already impressing his superiors with his linguistic skills.

Just shy of his 27th birthday, he was fluent in French, Mandarin Chinese and Wolof, a language from his parents’ home in Senegal.

“He was doing great,” Samb said. “He was a sergeant in the guards and was about to join the intelligence services, and this is when it happened.”

Abdoulaye Cisse, born in Minneapolis, joined the Minnesota National Guard in 2014. He already had overseas experience, living with his parents for a time in Senegal and studying in China.

His father, Alioune Cisse, spoke with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS by phone from Senegal.

"We were so happy to see him with a bright future in the military,” Alioune Cisse said. “His last breath was in the same hospital where he was born 27 years ago.”

Abdoulaye Cisse’s last breath was on Oct. 16, 2019. It was his 27th birthday.

1 dead after assault in Minneapolis’ Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, prompting safety patrols

Shortly before his death, he spoke with his parents during a joyful overseas phone call.

“It was his birthday, so we sang along ‘Happy Birthday’ to him,” Alioune Cisse said. “And like a soldier, like a very happy man, he was chanting and chanting with us over the phone. I believe he went happy.”

The family believes Abdoulaye was walking home around 4:30 a.m., in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood along Seventh Street. He was found lying in the road, stabbed to death, near the apartment he shared with his sister.

"A young man in the middle of his life… and then this senseless act of violence,” Samb said. “He died, for what reason, we don’t know.”

In the days after Abdoulaye Cisse’s death, shocked neighbors and police launched a safe walk.

Officers were canvassing door to door for information. But in nearly a year, no motive or suspects have surfaced.

"What was he doing out at that time? Was he responding to somebody?” Samb said. “Whatever it may be, we don’t have answers."

Minneapolis police say there have been no arrests in the case and that detectives continue to investigate.

Friends are planning to increase the reward for information to $15,000 in hopes of generating new leads.

"I do believe that until the perpetrators in this crime have been caught, we will not be at peace, and himself, his grave will not rest,” Alioune Cisse says about his son.

Abdoulaye Cisse was buried in Senegal.

Friends and family are planning a memorial service on Friday, the anniversary of his death. It will take place at the location where he was killed, at 500 Seventh Street SE in Minneapolis, from 3-5 p.m.

Leaflets will be passed out, urging people to contact police if they know anything about the case.

Anyone currently with information is asked to call the Minneapolis Police Department or CrimeStoppers.

"Dying in this manner even makes it harder because we feel we were robbed,” Samb says. “This was a young man who had the future in front of him, and his life was short-lived. We still want answers, we still want responses because it will at least allow us to make sense out of this.”