Musharaf Shah had moved his wife and eight children from Lahore, Pakistan, to Alexandria nearly three years ago to seek what many immigrants yearn for -- a good education for his children so they could have a better life.
Yesterday, his family grieved for their father, who will never see his children fulfill his dreams for them. Shah, 47, was fatally shot late Thursday on an Old Town Alexandria street after he delivered a pizza. Alexandria police are calling the incident a botched robbery.
"He was the strongest of any man in the whole wide world," said his eldest son, Syed Shah, 19, as he stood outside the family's Alexandria apartment. "He wanted the best for us. He wanted us to have the best education. That's what he told us: 'I came here because of you guys.' "
Shah, who was shot in the chest after delivering pizzas to the Firehook Bakery in the 200 block of North Fayette Street, was pronounced dead at 10:45 p.m. at Inova Fairfax Hospital, police said.
In an incident that police said might be related to Shah's slaying, a woman was robbed at gunpoint elsewhere in Old Town shortly after the shooting. Police said the 35-year-old woman was forced inside her home in the 800 block of South Lee Street, and her money was taken. The robber then fled, said Amy Bertsch, an Alexandria police spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, Fairfax County police, who had a description of a black Subaru that witnesses had seen at the shooting scene, spotted such a car just south of the Alexandria city line and began a pursuit, Bertsch said. The driver and a passenger abandoned the vehicle in the 900 block of South Alfred Street, she said. A police helicopter assisted in the chase, and Alexandria officers eventually apprehended two suspects in the 300 block of North St. Asaph Street.
Antowaun Lynch, 20, of Fairmount Heights and a second suspect, whom police have not positively identified, were charged in the robbery of the woman.
"We're investigating whether these suspects may have been involved in the homicide," Bertsch said. "Both offenses occurred within minutes of each other and within relative proximity."
Shah's slaying is the first homicide this year in Alexandria, Bertsch said. There were four homicides in Alexandria last year.
Patty Sullivan, a spokeswoman for Pizza Hut, Shah's employer, said delivery drivers never carry more than $20 when they leave the restaurant -- a minimum amount to make change, she said. She said drivers are given training in safety.
"They cash out after every delivery," she said. "They go back to the store and go out again."
Sullivan described Shah as a "good employee who was well-liked."
"It's was a random act," she said. "It's heartbreaking."
The slain man's daughter Furkhanda Shah, 18, said the family initially came to the United States so her father could work at the Embassy of Pakistan. He retired from his job as an administrative assistant last year, said Farukh Amil, the consular at the embassy.
"He was a very cheerful, very hardworking person," Amil said. "Very much a family man."
When the embassy was going to send the family back to Pakistan, Furkhanda Shah said her father, who obtained a visa, applied for early retirement so his children could continue their education in the United States.
To support the children, ages 5 to 19, and his wife, a homemaker, he took an assortment of temporary part-time jobs -- working at a 7-Eleven, delivering newspapers. He landed the full-time pizza delivery job in April.
He would check in on the family during the evening, his son said.
"He would want to know where are my little brothers," said Syed Shah, who along with Furkhanda Shah attends Northern Virginia Community College. Their siblings attend Alexandria public schools, he said.
Shah spoke of how proud he was of his father's determination.
"He really cared about us," said Shah, standing next to a half-dozen pairs of shoes placed outside the apartment door. "I have to take my place now, like my dad used to."