Muslim store owner killed after confronting customers

The Associated Press
Monday September 17, 2001

SAN GABRIEL – A grocery store owner was shot and killed after an apparent confrontation with customers escalated into violence, officials said. 

The shooting took place at 3:15 p.m. Saturday when the victim, Adel Karas, 48, of Arcadia, confronted two unidentified men as they picked up several unknown items from the store. Karas suffered gunshot wounds to the upper torso when gunfire erupted as the suspects approached the counter, said Deputy Ronald Bottomley of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. 

The two suspects fled in a copper-colored Honda driven by a third person, Bottomley said. 

Karas was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena where he was pronounced dead at 3:26 p.m. 

Family members of Karas, who is a Coptic Christian from Egypt, believe the killing took place because the suspects assumed Karas was Muslim. They believe he was a victim of a backlash attack motivated by Tuesday’s terror attacks in the East Coast. 

Several apparent backlash assaults and threats have been reported across the country against people of Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian descent. 

“When we went to the store ... we saw all the cash in the register,” said Karas’ cousin, Nash Eskander. 

There was nothing of value in the store that would push someone to killing, Eskander said. 

Police officials, however, said the shooting is being investigated as a robbery. 

“Right now the homicide detectives are investigating the case,” said sheriff’s Deputy Brian Lendman. “It appears to be a robbery that had tragic results. We have no information to the contrary.”