Arab-American convenience store owner killed, family believes it was hate crime

Associated Press
Tuesday October 02, 2001

REEDLEY, Calif. (AP) — The family of an Arab-American shop owner killed during the weekend thinks he was the victim of a hate crime. 

Abdo Ali Ahmed was shot Saturday at his convenience store after receiving a death threat and being subjected to racial slurs. 

An autopsy was ordered as deputies searched for the killers. Investigators were considering all possible motives, including robbery and racism. 

“Any time there is violence directed toward anyone of Middle Eastern descent that is always a possibility, that is something we are going to investigate,” Sgt. Dan Cervantes said Monday. 

The FBI said it has not been involved in the Ahmed case. The agency has joined in hate-crime investigations across the country after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast. 

Ahmed’s family thinks his death was part of a trend of hate crimes toward Middle Eastern immigrants. 

Ahmed, 51, was a Muslim who moved to the United States from Yemen about 35 years ago. 

“He didn’t have no enemies,” said Fahmi Kassim, Ahmed’s nephew. “He’s a very, very peaceful guy. He’s got a nice heart.” 

Ahmed recently found a death threat note on his car while he was shopping at a grocery store. He tore the note off the car and threw it away, said Madram Shuaibi, another relative. 

Sheriff’s detectives were looking for four males, probably in their teens, who were seen speeding from the East Reedley Store after the shooting. 

Relatives said nothing was stolen from the store, but Cervantes said investigators were still trying to determine if anything was missing. Ahmed apparently was alone in the store at the time. 

Since the terrorist attacks, business had dropped for Ahmed, said Stan Peterson, who runs a bar next to the store. Ahmed recently asked him for some American flags to display. 

“He wanted people to know he supported the U.S.A.,” Peterson said.