Muhannad Adam Tairab, 17; Adam Kamel Mekki, 20; and Mohamedtaha Omar, 23, were brutally shot to death Wednesday in the back bedroom of a home in the 800 block of East Lewis Street.
On Monday, Wehdad Omar, Omar's 29-year-old sister, talked with The News-Sentinel about her brother.
Wehdad Omar cannot understand why her brother is dead.
"All we read about is how he was shot, not that he was murdered. He had no enemies, only friends," Omar said.
Sitting in her shared bedroom in her family's home near Lakeside Park, Wehdad Omar said she wanted to tell her brother's story because she feels most people have no understanding of what he was really like.
They are part of a family that had fled from war in Darfur to the United States. Technically they are not refugees because her father already worked here. Taha, as his family calls him, was in middle school then. He had always been a good student in Darfur. Scoring high marks was something he took very seriously.
It was when he went to North Side High School that his sister noticed his scores were not as high as they had been. She said he was being bullied by some of the other students because he was different.
Wehdad Omar's slender fingers twisted her black mourning veil as she talked about her brother's dream of becoming an actor, and eventually, because of his fame, becoming an activist to whom people would listen. She acknowledged his dream but also encouraged him to go to college. He could always be an actor when he was finished, she told him. He was enrolled at Ivy Tech College of Northeast Indiana at the time of his death.
"We love all people; we are raised to not see the differences in people," Wehdad Omar said.
Because of their culture and having escaped a war, Omar said the Sudanese here in Fort Wayne tend to live in the safety of extended family groups. Her brother never stayed at the house where the shooting occurred; he always came home. But he would spend time there and cook food and take it over there because people there did not cook.
The house where the shooting took place, Omar said, was owned by an African family. The parents had moved out, but one of their sons was still living there. She had always encouraged the young man to come live with them, but he liked having his own large bedroom.
The day Taha died was much like any other, his sister said. He took the household's children to school, and then drove her to fill out a job application. He went to the store for a few groceries that she needed and afterward picked up the children from school. He told her he was going to get his hair cut and drop a cousin off because they share the same car. He sometimes got haircuts from a person he knew and he said he would pick up the acquaintance and bring him back to the house. The last she heard from her brother was around 2 p.m. One of the other young men who was killed at the house was his haircutter, she said.
Omar said Tairab and her brother had grown up like brothers. She had tried to call him several times later in the day but got no response. When the family found out there was a problem, they had no car to get to the house where the shootings occurred. When they finally arrived no one would tell them anything, she said.
"Taha was always trying to fix problems for other people," Omar said.
A feminist in a culture where that is an alien concept, her brother always stood up for her beliefs. She did not wish to marry young, as is the custom in their culture and he supported her in that choice.
Omar said they came to the United State to be safe from a war. The family never thought Taha would die here, where it is suppose to be safe, she said.
Family to speak
The family of Muhannad Adam Tairab and Mohamedtaha Omar will make a statement at a news conference at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Universal Education Foundation Islamic Center, 2223 Goshen Road. For coverage, see news-sentinel.com and Wednesday's News-Sentinel.
Fort Wayne Police Department spokesman Officer Michael Joyner told The Associated Press on Monday the manner in which the victims were killed "would make one believe that more than one individual was involved." The victims were reportedly each shot several times.
Joyner declined to say whether police have identified any possible suspects in the killings. But he said the investigation was "very active" and urged anyone with information to come forward.
He noted the house where the three were killed was known to police, saying one person associated with the home who wasn't present during the shooting is "known to have gang involvement." Because Tairab and Omar were Muslim, the deaths have received nationwide attention. However, Joyner said it was not a hate crime.