Golam and Shamima Rabbi left Bangladesh for the United States more than 30 years ago. Golam, an engineer, and Shamima, an accountant, raised two sons — one 17 and one in his early 20s — in the United States. They housed a family who emigrated from Bangladesh in their four-bedroom home and worshiped and volunteered at local Islamic centers.
On Sunday, they were found slain in their house, which sat on a quiet cul-de-sac in San Jose’s Evergreen neighborhood.
After friends hadn’t heard from them for a few days, they dropped by the couple’s San Jose home to check on them and found the sliding glass door unlocked. They slipped in and called the police after finding their bodies sprawled on the floor, bleeding and unresponsive, ABC7 reported.
After responding to the call, officers found the Rabbis dead, according to a news release from the San Jose Police Department. Each victim was shot at least one time. Golam was 59, his wife was 57, and they were discovered at about 1:47 p.m. Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Next to their bodies was a note, scrawled in black ink, that read, “Sorry, my first kill was clumsy,” according to ABC7.
NBC, citing anonymous individuals who were allegedly in the house, reported that the note continued, stating, “I can’t be like you, telling a lie. I can’t love someone without telling them.”
Police haven’t offered many details about the investigation. In particular, they have not confirmed the existence of the note nor what the message may indicate, the Los Angeles Times reported. They also haven’t released the names of any suspects or a motive for the killings, but they have said they don’t think the killing was random or that it was a hate crime.
On Tuesday, they said they think the “incident was not a random act of violence and the suspect was someone familiar to the family,” the San Jose Mercury News reported. “Based on the information we have at this time, we do not believe this incident is a hate crime or that the public is in any immediate danger as a result of the suspect’s actions.”
Police have spoken to the younger son but are still trying to locate the eldest for questioning, New York Daily News reported. “At this time he is not considered a suspect but may have information regarding this incident,” said San Jose police spokesman Albert Morales.
“Our homicide investigators are working diligently to try and conduct a thorough and complete investigation so that we may bring closure to this horrible crime and provide answers,” he added.
The incident has shaken San Jose’s generally peaceful Bangladeshi community, particularly those close to the couple.
“It’s the most shocking news in my life,” the couple’s 37-year-old nephew, Golam Mustakim, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I was very close to them with all my heart. I have no words to explain how I am feeling. I want to believe they are still alive.”
When Mustakim immigrated to the United States with his family 16 years ago, Golam and Shamima gave him and his family a place to stay.
“They not only brought us here, they also brought us food and shelter — at least until we found our means to survive. [They] displayed this same kindness to other families in the United States,” Mustakim told the Chronicle.
“I can’t ever remember this happening in the Bangladeshi community,” Evergreen Islamic Center board member Hasan Rahim, who had known the couple for 30 years, told NBC. “It’s never happened.”
He’d last seen Golam, whom he describes as “very polite, very humble,” on Friday at a nearby mosque for jumu’ah prayer, NBC reported. As an example of this kindness, Rahim remembered a time Golam chopped up the back of a eucalyptus tree into mulch, which he spread to the very community who had to cut the tree down while paving the way for a new mosque.
“It is difficult to reconcile what happened to people who have such humility, given how peaceful they were,” Rahim said. “I can’t fathom it. They were so eager to make the community better. They were so soft spoken. I never saw my friend angry or agitated.”
The Rabbis were also long-serving volunteers with the South Bay Islamic Association, which released a statement about the couple: “We ask Allah (swt) to forgive the deceased, shower His mercy on them, and make their graves a garden from paradise. In addition, we extend our deepest condolences to the family and ask Allah (swt) to grant them strength and patience during this most difficult time.”
Since Sunday, several bunches of flowers and a single candle have sat in the driveway as a makeshift memorial, NBC reported.
The double-homicide represents the fourth and fifth murders in a particularly bloody week in San Jose. The city has had 16 homicides this year, the Mercury News reported.
Police have asked for anyone with information regarding the Rabbis’ murders to contact Detective Sgt. Pat Guire or Detective Ken Tran of the San Jose Police Department’s Homicide Unit at 408-277-5283.