Durham police still searching for suspect in slaying of restaurant owner

Restaurant owner was gunned down in parking lot behind his business

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comDecember 11, 2012 

  • Prayer vigil scheduled A prayer vigil to honor the life of Mohammed Arfan Sundal will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Kabab & Curry House, 2016 Guess Road. All faiths and ages welcome. The vigil is sponsored by the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham. For more information, call Marcia Owen at 919-358-1113. Want to help? Those wishing to contribute to the Sundal family fund came make checks out to The Watts Hospital-Hillandale Neighborhood Association and mail them in care of the organization’s treasurer, Thomas H. Harris, 3306 Sprunt Ave., Durham, NC 27705.

— Still searching for leads, police will go door to door to ask questions Wednesday afternoon along the 2000 block of Guess Road where a 51-year-old restaurant owner was fatally shot Thursday night.

Police and volunteers will knock on doors and hand out fliers, hoping someone might have information about the shooting death of Mohammed Arfan Sundal. Someone gunned down the beloved owner of the Kabab & Curry House Thursday night in the parking lot behind his restaurant at 2016 Guess Road.

Meanwhile, a prayer vigil will be held Sunday to honor Sundal’s life and residents of the surrounding community are raising funds to help his family and to express their appreciation for his friendly and generous service.

According to a 911 recording made public by the Durham Police Department, a female employee at the restaurant found Mohammed Sundal’s body in the parking lot near his car. The 911 caller told the dispatcher that Sundal was waiting for a delivery, but never came back into the restaurant that normally closes at 9:30 p.m.

Sundal was pronounced dead when police arrived shortly after 10 p.m., according to spokeswoman Kammie Michael.

No arrests have been made in the case.

But police on Tuesday announced that Project Safe Neighborhoods, a law enforcement and community-based partnership to reduce gun violence, will conduct a community response in the neighborhood as a result of his death.

Police and volunteers will gather in the restaurant’s parking lot at 5 p.m. and divide into teams to knock on doors and pass out flyers for about an hour, Michael said.

Sundal moved to the United States from Pakistan when he was 23. He studied mathematics and science in college, but he always dreamed of opening a restaurant. He opened the modest eatery which served samosas, chicken tikala and naan bread nearly five years ago.

His family intends to transport his body to New York where most of the family lives. His wife and children, ages 16, 14, 13 and 9 will also move permanently from their home in Cary to New York.

Sundal’s brother, Mohammad Sundal, said his sister in-law took care of the children and managed the household while her husband ran the restaurant.

“After this, why stay?” he said. “They can’t do anything here. So, move to New York.”

The little restaurant’s specialties won a devoted customer base that included students from nearby Duke University and the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics, along with residents in the surrounding Watts Hospital-Hillandale neighborhoods.

Pamela Gulton lives in the nearby Northgate Park neighborhood and owns an art gallery on Broad Street. She and her family would have food delivered from Kebab & Curry “all the time,” she said.

“I loved the saag paneer, a vegetable dish,” she said. “That’s really good. The food was very affordable.”

Gulton said soon after news of Sundal’s death was made public, residents in the Watts Hospital-Hillandale neighborhood, suggested creating a fund for his children.

“It was on the (Watts Hospital-Hillandale Neighborhood Association) listserv,” Gulton said. “It was passed around to all the other neighborhood listservs as well.”

News researcher Peggy Neal contributed to this report.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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