Shueyb Abukar left a war-torn country for one he thought would be safe.
Safe to live. Safe to work. Safe to raise a family or go to dinner on a Friday night.
Now, his family is left to wonder how Abukar could cross thousands of miles, leaving Somalia for New York and then New York for Columbus, but not avoid the danger of a man with a gun.
Abukar was shot and killed in an apparent robbery outside the Golden Corral restaurant at 3710 W. Dublin-Granville Rd. while his wife and six children stood by on Friday evening. Police are looking for the shooter and the getaway driver who helped him flee the crowded commercial area on the Northwest Side.
“We know that this life, you only have a short period,” said Mohamad Abdi, an uncle from Maryland. “The way it ended is devastating to all of us.”
Family and friends who gathered on Saturday from across the country to bury Abukar said he was a hard worker who loved his family.
They recalled late-night phone calls while he cared for a coughing child and how he did his best to work the day shift shuttling passengers from the airport in his cab so he could spend time with his family at night.
They said he made his permanent move to Columbus only a few years ago, leaving behind jobs as a translator and at a bank in New York City for the relative safety and affordability of central Ohio. He bought a home for his family on Minerva Avenue.
This is where he wanted to raise his family and earn a living. He fled Somalia for the U.S. about 15 years ago, said Mohamud Abukar, his brother.
“He left this place because he thought he was coming to a safe place to raise a family,” Abdi said.
Even the family‘s restaurant choice on Friday evening was supposed to be safe. Family members said Abukar’s three daughters and three sons, all 9 or younger, loved Golden Corral because they could choose whatever they wanted to eat. And the area isn’t known for high crime.
“It’s a family night out that went wrong,” said Fuad Mo, his brother-in-law.
Police say a man wearing an Ohio State hoodie and pajama pants with the OSU insignia approached Abukar and his family outside the restaurant around 6:30 p.m. Friday.
After the man demanded Abukar’s wallet, he shot him twice and fled in a tan four-door sedan. Police are looking for the shooter and the person who drove the getaway vehicle. No arrests had been made as of Saturday evening.
Family members said they can forgive the people responsible for Abukar’s death. That’s part of their Muslim faith.
But they still want them brought to justice, Abdi said. The Muslim community is raising funds to put up a reward for the arrest of those responsible for Abukar’s death.
“We’ll do everything we can to help (police) resolve this issue so it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” he said. “It’s very, very, very disturbing.”
On Saturday, they said goodbye. In a simple service following afternoon prayer at Masjid Ibnu Taymiyah and Islamic Center on the North Side, family, friends and other Muslims prayed for mercy for Abukar and all others who have died.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Mohamud Abukar said.