Police: Father caused infant’s ‘devastating’ brain bleed

Police: Awes Sheikhuna caused “devastating" brain injury to his 3-month-old son

Awes Sheikhuna shown in a jail booking photo after being arrested by Portland Police (MCSO)
Awes Sheikhuna shown in a jail booking photo after being arrested by Portland Police (MCSO)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Just hours before a 3-month old boy was rushed to the hospital with “devastating” injuries, a pediatrician described the boy as alert and happy, police said.

Awes Sheikhuna, 28, was arrested shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday at Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct after he turned himself in. He was booked into Multnomah County Detention Center a short time later.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office Multi-Disciplinary Child Abuse Team filed charges of first-degree assault and first-degree criminal mistreatment against Sheikhuna.

According to an arrest affidavit written by Portland Police Detective Erica Hurley, paramedics were called to an apartment complex in the 6700 block of Southwest 26th Avenue on June 15 when Sheikhuna called 911 after his three-month-old son became unresponsive.

Boy’s injuries described as ‘devastating’

The child remains at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University “with significant brain injuries,” Hurley wrote. According to child abuse specialist, the boy’s injuries were diagnosed as “non-accidental trauma.” Dr. Tom Valvano told police the boy has “devastating” brain injuries and that he may die as a result of them.

“Dr. Valvano stated if (the boy) survived the brain injury that he would likely be permanently disabled,” Hurley wrote.

When doctors examined the boy at OHSU, they discovered he had “multiple bleeds to his brain and a spinal injury,” according to documents.

The injured boy has a brother, police said. Sheikhuna told police the boys’ mother is his girlfriend and they have been dating for 2 years, according to court documents. The girlfriend told police while they are not legally married, they are married “in the eyes of God,” Hurley wrote. Sheikhuna and his girlfriend reportedly do not live together.

The mother told police Sheikhuna comes over to her apartment to watch his sons while she works. On the day of the alleged assault, Sheikhuna arrived to watch the children and take them to the doctor’s office. She left the apartment around 2 p.m. on June 15, police said. Sheikhuna told police he made the appointment because both children reportedly had the flu, Hurley wrote. Sheikhuna reportedly told police that the children had been sick for “1-2 weeks”.

Boy described as ‘alert, happy’ by doctor

Sheikhuna and the children went to the doctor’s office around 3:30 p.m June 15, police said. The pediatrician noted the alleged victim “was alert, happy and easily consoled,” Hurley wrote. The doctor reported that the boy did not cry. “The physical exam was remarkable only for nasal congestion,” Hurley wrote regarding the doctor’s exam.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Sheikhuna returned to the apartment, police said. He called the mother of the children and told her “the doctor said nothing was wrong (with the boy),” Hurley wrote. But Sheikhuna reportedly claimed that the boy would not stop crying.

The boy’s mother got another call from Sheikhuna while she was at work, police said. Sheikhuna “told her something was wrong (with the boy),” Hurley wrote.

Sheikhuna told police while in the apartment, the boy continued to cry, court documents state. When police asked Sheikhuna about his actions, he told them he was “carrying (the boy) around and stroking his head to try to get (the boy) to stop crying but it didn’t work,” Hurley wrote. Sheikhuna reportedly said he gave the child liquid ibuprofen and some other liquid medication he purchased at a local market that “supposedly treats stomach ailments.”

Father ‘afraid’ when calling 911, doesn’t perform CPR

Sheikhuna told police to get his son to stop crying, he put the boy in a swing inside the living room, court documents state. He reportedly went to check on the boy after noticing the boy “got quiet”. Sheikhuna said the boy sounded like he was choking, so he then put water on him to get the boy to breath. At that point, he called 911 and was told by an emergency dispatcher to start performing first aid. Records show the 911 call was placed at 6:11 p.m. on June 15.

Sheikhuna “was afraid he would hurt (the boy) so he did not do CPR,” Hurley wrote.

Detectives Hurley and Nathan Tobey, both assigned to the Multnomah County Child Abuse Team, interviewed Sheikhuna at OHSU. Homicide Detective Erik Kammerer assisted, given the nature of the child’s life-threatening injuries. The interview was translated by Portland Police Officer Khalid Ibrahim who speaks Somali, court documents state.

Sheikhuna told the detectives and officer he didn’t do anything before the child started becoming symptomatic. He admitted there were no falls or accidents before the child was injured, court documents state.

“Sheikhuna said he does not know what caused (the boy’s) injuries,” Hurley wrote.

He told the investigators he was the only person supervising the children in the afternoon when the injuries occurred, court documents state. Sheikhuna told the detectives and officer he was not frustrated by the crying of the two boys.

Detectives have seized Sheikhuna and his girlfriend’s cellphones as part of the investigation. They have obtained warrants to analyze the phones, court documents show.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday at the Multnomah County Justice Center. His bail has been set at $255,000.

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