For the last five years, and almost seven days a week for the last two, Dawud Abdul-Raheem would load his white van with merchandise and run his route through the poor pockets of the District.
It took him to a block anchored by an abandoned school in Ivy City late Saturday afternoon. He had a van full of goods -- T-shirts and pants and athletic gear -- and about $60 in his pockets when he drove onto Gallaudet Street NE.
What occurred next is still under investigation, but witnesses told police they heard about five shots in the area. Abdul-Raheem's body was found a short time later in his van, its side doors open and most of the merchandise still inside.
Investigators fanned out into the neighborhood and, with the aid of a police dog, searched for clues and witnesses. So far, no arrests have been made and police have not released a motive. Friends and his family, however, are convinced Abdul-Raheem was killed during a robbery attempt.
The news of the killing spread quickly in the Moslem community, of which Abdul-Raheem, 48, had been a member for almost three decades. Although violent crime has touched the community before -- and Moslem merchants have been robbed in the past -- Saturday's incident has caused many to consider an organized response.
At the Masjid Muhammad, a mosque in Northwest where he prayed, members met Monday to discuss Abdul-Raheem's death. As a result of that informal gathering and other conversations this week, friends decided the killing should be marked by more than mourning.
"When you find Moslems who are aware of what happened, you will find outrage and concern," Kamara Abdilhagg Muhammad said yesterday. "And as a result, a stronger coming together will take place, and I think it will have a galvanizing factor."
For now, friends have collected $1,000 and are offering it as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer. More important, they said, the homicide has made it clear that the community must reinforce its values.
"We all have to join forces because what we have now is an environment where lawlessness is just rampant," said Dawud Mahdi.
The group plans to hold a news conference tomorrow at the scene of the shooting, where members said a strategy will be announced. Just what the message will be is still under discussion, but several said yesterday it will include a reaffirmation of Moslem values and call for greater unity.
Abdul-Raheem, who grew up in the District and became a Moslem in the early 1960s, supported his family through the sale of his merchandise. He worked every day so he could earn enough to support three children from a previous marriage and a stepdaughter, said his wife, Zakiyyah.
"He was a very soft-spoken man. His main drive was to provide for his family," she said. "Outside of that, he never wanted too much. Everything else was for us."
Zakiyyah Abdul-Raheem heard the news Saturday night about 9 p.m., when police knocked on her door. She went to the home of her husband's ex-wife, Diane Gamble, and broke to the news to her and the children, Rasheedah, 14, Zarinah, 13 and Hakim, 12.
Abdul-Raheem worked all four quadrants in the District. Security for a mobile salesman is scant, but friends said he felt protected because he forged relationships with many along the route by virtue of his personality.
"I knew him as a brother, a friend and also a colleague in business," said Iman Abdul Mubdee. "He was a man that was committed to his God, committed to his family and he dealt honestly in his transactions."
Anyone with information on the case can call the police crime solver's number at 727-3575. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Masjid Muhammad, 1519 Fourth St. NW.