An Iraqi man watching his first snowfall in his new American hometown was shot and killed by an unknown assailant, according to Dallas police.
Authorities have stepped up patrols in the neighborhood where Ahmed Al-Jumaili lived — and died — in their effort to find out who killed the 36-year-old early Thursday, as he and his brother stood in the parking lot of his apartment complex watching the snow. Al-Jumaili’s wife was with them taking photos.
Dallas police spokesman Jeff Cotner said Al-Jumaili, who recently immigrated to the U.S., had never seen snow and “just like all of us, a pretty snowfall brings the child out in us.”
There is “extreme heartache … and no shortage of sadness for this beautiful young man who had just come to this country 20 days ago,” said Alia Salem, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the Dallas and Fort Worth area.
CAIR became involved in the case immediately after the shooting, according to Salem, because of “a heightened sense of awareness with regard to hate crimes against Muslims.”
Salem said the Muslim community wanted to know whether the shooting death was random or whether Al-Jumaili was targeted. Police say they have no indication so far that it was a hate crime.
When shooting broke out, Al-Jumaili cried “I’m hit!” according to Cotner, basing that on statements from witnesses and the victim’s relatives. He ran to his apartment nearby and died a few hours later. Police did not say where Al-Jumaili was struck or how many times he was shot.
Some residents reported seeing two to four men enter the apartment complex on foot through a vehicle gate before the shooting, according to Cotner. He said there was no interaction between the men and Al-Jumaili and his family.
In black-and-white soundless surveillance video, one person who appears to be carrying a rifle is seen running just ahead of a second person, Dallas police Officer Monica Cordova said. The second person is shown walking at a slower pace, holding what appears to be a handgun in his right hand. Approximately 13 seconds later, another person comes into view and passes by the camera, followed by a fourth individual who is walking, she said.
From the vantage point of the camera, it is difficult to make out any of the features of the suspects or even the gender, although police have said they are looking for four black males.
Witnesses say multiple shots were fired from what is believed to be a rifle. Cotner said police are conducting tests to find out whether more than one rifle was used in the shooting, but he said he could not reveal the make or model of the weapon.
Cotner said Friday that other than that, police have little to go on. “We can’t solve this crime alone,” he said. Authorities are appealing to the public to contact them with any information that might help the investigation.
North Texas Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and an indictment, police said.
Salem is encouraging anyone with information about the shooting to share it.
She said there are online campaigns underway to help raise funds for the family’s expenses, as well as an effort to raise additional funds to contribute to the reward.