Columbia City business owner in critical condition after shooting

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Mamadou Diakhate, owner of Baol African Imports in Columbia City, was shot Oct. 17. The Seattle man charged in his shooting has also been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Central District business owner. (Courtesy of Columbia City Business Association)

Mamadou Diakhate, a well-known small business owner in Columbia City, was in critical condition Tuesday at a Seattle hospital after he was shot in a robbery last week. 

Diakhate, owner of Baol African Imports, a longtime Columbia City business, was one of three people shot in Seattle over the span of three days in what prosecutors called “a cavalcade of violence.” A fourth victim suffered cuts when a bullet was fired through her windshield.

According to police, Diakhate was working at the specialty store just before noon Oct. 17 when a man wearing a balaclava-style mask walked in with a gun concealed in a shopping bag. The man demanded Diakhate’s debit card and PIN at gunpoint, then shot Diakhate in the chest after he complied, Seattle police said.

The gunman then fled the store.

On Monday, King County prosecutors charged Ashton Christopher Lefall, 31, with first-degree robbery and first-degree assault in connection with the shooting of Diakhate.

Lefall is also charged with premeditated first-degree murder, accused of gunning down small business owner D’Vonne Pickett Jr. in Seattle’s Central District on Oct. 19. He has also been charged in connection with two other shootings last week.

Lefall’s last name also appears as Leffall in charging documents.

As of Tuesday, Diakhate was still in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center, said hospital spokesperson Susan Gregg. His family declined to be interviewed and is requesting privacy at this time, according to Gregg. 

The shooting sparked an outpouring of support from Columbia City residents, who described Diakhate as an integral member of the business community. 

Eric Weakland, owner of The Hummingbird Saloon in Columbia City, said “I can’t think of anybody who’d call him an enemy.” 

“If someone came in and said ‘I’m hungry, please give me money,’ I’m thinking he probably would’ve,” Weakland said. 

Diakhate previously owned a restaurant called La Teranga, which opened in 2012 and soon developed a major following for its traditional Senegalese dishes that offered big, spicy flavors. 

Seattle’s only Senegalese restaurant, La Teranga was a one-man operation, with Diakhate working as chef, host and waiter. It closed in 2020 just before COVID-19 lockdowns. 

“The affable Diakhate embodies the spirit of the restaurant’s name, which means ‘hospitality’ in the African Wolof language,” The Seattle Times wrote about the restaurant in 2016. 

Syed Adnan Mustafa, who started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Diakhate and his family, said he’s known Diakhate from his days running La Teranga. 

“Just as enjoyable as his food is his humble and kind personality,” Mustafa wrote in the GoFundMe page.  

Diakhate has been looking to reopen the restaurant in a new location, according to Rainier Ave Business Coalition outreach coordinator Kate Bond. An active member of the community business organization, Diakhate has helped the group prioritize its areas of focus for economic development, Bond said. 

“He’s very beloved in the community,” Bond said. “He’s just the nicest person in the whole wide world.” 

The organization created its own GoFundMe page to cover Diakhate’s medical expenses. Originally set with a $5,000 goal, the fund had reached more than $10,000 as of Tuesday evening. 

“If that’s any indication about how people feel about him, it should be obvious,” Weakland said.

Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks: 206-464-2246 or; . Staff reporter Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks covers race and equity for The Seattle Times.