Crime

Vigil planned for Durham track coach killed in break-in

Shareef Abdul Muhammad competes in the 400-yard relay for N.C. Central University. With Muhammad as a member, the relay team earned NCAA Division II All-American honors in 2004 and 2007.
Shareef Abdul Muhammad competes in the 400-yard relay for N.C. Central University. With Muhammad as a member, the relay team earned NCAA Division II All-American honors in 2004 and 2007. NCCU

The Triangle Champions youth track and field club plans a candlelight vigil Saturday for one of its coaches who was killed Tuesday night.

Shareef Abdul Muhammad, 29, was fatally shot during an apparent robbery at his home on Rosewood Street, a block from N.C. Central University where he was on the track team from the 2003-04 through the 2007-08 seasons.

"He was just a great guy," Euba McCoy, Triangle Champions head coach, said Thursday. "A great, very spirited, passionate guy about track and helping the young athletes."

McCoy said the vigil, at the Hillside High School track, will start about 5:30 p.m. She and the other Triangle Champions coaches planned to settle details Thursday night, she said.

According to police investigators, two unknown gunmen wearing hoodies forced their way into the house at 1300 Rosewood St. and attempted to rob the occupants. Muhammad was shot during the incident and pronounced dead at the scene.

No charges have been filed and police have not named suspects.

"It was really tragic to lose him like that," McCoy said.

On his Facebook page, on.fb.me/1sJxuOX, Muhammad described himself as "young, Black and motivated. Funny, easy going. Killa smile. Athletic and business oriented."

Muhammad worked at the Tobacco Road Sports Cafe in Durham as a busser and had recently been promoted to server, said coworker Alex Pearce.

"Great worker," Pearce said.

"He was a good guy, man. Standup guy," said Omar Beasley of Durham, who said he helped coach Muhammad at NCCU.

"It's sad, I just don't understand why something like that would happen to him," Beasley said.

Muhammad grew up in Willingboro, N.J. NCCU head track coach Michael Lawson said he first saw Muhammad at the Penn Relays meet, when Muhammad was with his high-school team.

"I liked what I saw and we brought him in," Lawson said.

At Central, Muhammad ran cross country and competed in hurdles and the 440-yard relay, earning All-American honors in 2004 and 2007. He was on the track team for four seasons but left school before graduating, Lawson said.

"He had to drop out to take care of some home matters," Lawson said. He lost touch with Muhammad for a while, but had recently renewed acquaintance.

"He and I had been talking in the last couple of weeks," Lawson said. "He said, 'Hey, coach, I'm moving close by the school now and I can come help you.'"

Muhammad told his former coach he also intended to finish his degree, Lawson said.

"This was a young man that's very inspiring, working with the kids," Lawson said.

Muhammad had coached for the Triangle Champions since 2009. He also worked as the starter for high-school and middle-school track meets, McCoy said.

"Being a ... track club coach is a volunteer job, so he sacrificed," McCoy said. "It was something he was giving back. ... He would change his work hours around so he could coach the track team.

"We're going to miss him."

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