Just after midnight last Thursday, as real, powdery snow began sticking to the ground for the first time this season, 36-year old Ahmed Al-Jumali and his wife of 16 months, Zahraa, stepped outside their Richland College-area apartment. Ahmed had just emigrated here from Iran, and he had never seen snow.
As Zahraa took pictures of her husband and her brother, who was visiting, gunfire erupted, police say, and Ahmed yelled, “I’m hit.” He died later that morning at Presbyterian hospital.
Police have released video images of suspects as they walked, inside the gated apartment complex, toward the location of the crime. It appears to be four individual males, but it is impossible to make out further details.
But witnesses told police they saw up to four black males prior to the shooting.
“Two to four black males on foot entered the gate … multiple shots were fired from what we believe to be a rifle,” Dallas Police Department’s Major Jeff Cotner says. “Tests are being done to determine if one or more rifles were fired. We have little information.”
That is why police are relying heavily on the public’s help, Cotner adds.
Police ask anyone possessing any possibly related intel to report it to Detective Montenegro with the Dallas Police Department’s homicide unit at 214.671.3624.
Because Ahmed was Muslim, and due to recent high-profile crimes committed against Muslims, the Council on American-Islamic Relations contacted investigators and Al-Jumali’s family and became involved at once.
CAIR spokesperson Alia Salem told the media, “there is not reason to believe this is a hate crime, but it has not been ruled out.”
“What is certain,” she says, “is that there is extreme heartache in the Muslim community and the entire community of all religious beliefs.”
She urges the neighborhood and city to respond by speaking out with any information that would help police.
She says that the Muslim community also is collecting funds to add to Crime Stoppers’ $5,000 reward offered for tips leading to an arrest.
“We do not have a dollar amount yet,” she says, but the collection will make the reward significantly higher.
Along with other supporters, Salem set up a fund to help Zahraa with funeral and related expenses.
The fundraising page, which you can visit here, offers insight into the Al-Jumalis’ backstory: “A little over one-year ago, Zahraa made the painful and difficult decision to leave her husband in Iraq and come to what she believed to be a safer place in the United States to reunite with her family in North Texas.”
For financial reasons, Ahmed did not join his wife in America until about three weeks ago.
“It is heartbreaking to know that Zahrra won’t get to experience life’s milestones with her Ahmed. Hard to believe that their time together, as husband and wife, started just 16 months ago, and has now tragically ended so suddenly. Let us, as community, reach out to this family and show love and compassion toward our Zahraa and the Altaie/Al-Jumaili family during this difficult time.”
Many showed support at a weekend memorial service at Walnut Bend Apartments, Ahmed and Zahraa’s home and the place where he was killed.
We will continue to follow this story and report any updates to the investigation.