A store employee was shot and killed outside a beauty supply and grocery store Thursday afternoon in East St. Louis.
Shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, police were called to the 900 block of St. Louis Avenue by someone reporting shots being fired, East St. Louis Assistant Police Chief Ronald Ike said. They arrived to find a 52-year-old man dead on the ground.
Ike said the man worked inside the Royal Beauty Supply and Grocery. Illinois State Police Lt. Dave Wasmuth said police have not established a motive for the murder. But, he said robbery didn't appear to be the motive.
The masked gunmen approached Abdul Al Hakim, who was sitting in a chair outside of the Royale Beauty Supply/East Side Paging and Cellular store at 933 St. Louis Ave. He was talking to his wife who is in Yemen, when he was approached by two armed masked men. He reached into his pocket to defend himself and they shot him in the head," said Ali Dahaba, his best friend.
Dahaba believes the men intended to rob the store "because they were wearing ski masks," he said.
"The front door to the business was open," Dahaba said. He said he was inside of the store eating. He heard the gunshot but by the time he got to the door, the gunmen had fled the scene.
Dahaba wants the police to capture the gunmen who took his best friend's life.
He said Al-Hakim didn't have any enemies. He was a friendly likable guy, he said. "He didn't deserve to be killed," he said, with an obvious look of pain on his face.
Some friends and relatives who were standing outside wondering why this happened to one of theirs said, "Senseless. Just senseless."
Dahaba said Al-Hakim has eight children, two of them, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old, are here in the United States. They were not at the store at the time. He also said Al-Hakim's wife did not know that he was killed.
Lawrence Woods, the owner of 30-Something, a night club right across from Royale Beauty Supply, said every morning when he was on the way to drop his granddaughter off, he would see both men outside the business they have operated for four years.
"They were there early every morning. Abdul would be sitting in the chair and Ali would be pacing back and forth. Both of them are very friendly and neighborly," Woods said.
He doesn't know why anyone would kill Abdul. And, he said he will miss his friend.
"I will miss seeing him out there. I saw both of them there every day. It's sad. You have a guy out here working to provide for his family and he gets killed. You have people out here who don't want to go and get a job. They take a life," he said.
Woods said he also wants the police to find the shooter because it is just not right for someone to take another's life.
Woods said it appeared to him that the friends worked together to make sure each other was safe.
Wasmuth said police are reviewing surveillance video to hopefully identify the suspects. Anyone with any information on this homicide is urged to call the East St. Louis Police Department at 482-6700 or Illinois State Police at 346-3990 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-371-TIPS.