Mohammed Abduselam finished his day shift at King Gas Convenience about 8 p.m. Monday, but he hung around to restock bags of chips and help the night cashier, according to his family and friends.
Two men entered the store, family and friends said, and when Abduselam saw a gun, he stepped outside to call 911. One of the men followed him and shot him, making Abduselam, 37, the fifth person killed in the District since Saturday.
“This guy, he did not deserve to die like this. Why would you shoot him?” Ephrame Kassaye said. Kassaye, who owns a convenience store across the street from King in the 2900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, said that when he learned of the shooting, he went to the hospital to assist Abduselam’s family, whom he described as distraught.
All five victims were men in their 20s and 30s. In all of the cases, investigators are searching for leads and suspects. Police said the killings, which took place over several days in different parts of the city, are unrelated and do not appear to be part of a pattern.
The homicides bring the total number for the District this year to 91, according to police statistics. By this time last year, 105 people were killed.
In a statement Wednesday, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the department’s homicide closure rate is about 90 percent. “I am confident that the recent homicides will be closed quickly, as well,” she said.
Davon Paul Gray, 21, was fatally shot about 11 p.m. Saturday in the 2500 block of High Street SE, a few blocks from Frederick Douglass’s historic Anacostia home.
The next day, about 8:20 p.m., Jawan Parker, 31, of Northeast was stabbed to death in the 1900 block of I Street NE, near Langston Golf Course. Police are looking for a female suspect.
Early Monday about 1:30 a.m., Antonio Headspeth, 25, was fatally shot in the 1100 block of Stevens Road SE, near Barry Farm Recreation Center. His family is grappling with his homicide, and one member made an online plea to his killer.
“Antonio was my brother he had other siblings and a mother and father that love him dearly,” a woman named Kathleen McCoy posted on the Homicide Watch Web site. “Who ever took my brother’s life please turn yourself in.”
Eric Kearney, 22, was fatally shot near Truxton Park in Northeast about 8:20 p.m. Monday. Police found Kearney in the 1600 block of Lincoln Road with multiple gunshots. He died at a hospital.
Abduselam came to the United States from Ethiopia in 2007, according to his cousin Amir Ousman, who lives in Virginia. Abduselam lived with an older brother in Northeast and had relatives throughout the region.
He was known as the quiet member of the family, was not married and had no children, Ousman said. He worked daily at the store; when he wasn’t at work, he was usually home.
A practicing Muslim, Abduselam attended Friday prayers at the First Hijrah Foundation on Georgia Avenue NW in Petworth. On Wednesday, family members were busy arranging a Thursday funeral so he could be buried as soon as possible, per Muslim custom.
Along busy Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue on Tuesday afternoon, pedestrians slowed as they passed yellow tape that cordoned off the gas pumps and store. A large, colorful wall mural depicting President Obama and King under the words “Yes We Can And We Did” was visible across the street.
One man ducked under the tape, $20 bill in hand. As he walked toward the store, bystanders told him that it was closed because someone had been fatally shot.
Daco Nolen, 33, stood in front of the gas station during a lunch break from Day 2 of a two-week job-training program. He said he lived down the block from the store, was married and had three young children. On Monday night, he went to buy his wife a liter of soda from King Gas Convenience when he saw police lights flashing.
“It’s disturbing,” Nolen said of the shooting. Born and raised in the District, he said that after completing the training program, he hoped to get a construction job and move his family down south.
“I don’t see a future here for me and my kids,” he said. “Stuff like this plays a part in that.”
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