Nearly a year ago the owner of the Fast Food Mart on Broad Street asked the sheriff’s office for a deputy to provide security during the business’s rush hours because of “scary” guys who used to hang out in front of the store.
Tiken Guler, who manages the store, said the deputy initially worked from 5:30 p.m. until midnight, but his hours were later cut to end at 10 p.m.
Last Wednesday, the deputy left the Fast Food Mart at 10 p.m. as usual. Shortly after 11 p.m., police say, an armed man robbed the store and shot two employees, one of them fatally.
Guler said the gunman fired a single shot that struck Nafez Jalal, 57, in the chest. The married father of six children was dead before police arrived.
The second employee, 48-year-old Hassan Joalale of Durham, was shot in the leg. Emergency workers transported Joalale to a hospital where he underwent surgery.
Store owner Hakeem Saleh said the gunman was wearing a mask. Police have not announced any arrests or named a suspect.
Guler, 40, said after the deputy leaves the store at 10 p.m., employees are instructed to lock the door and open it only if a customer shows up. The night of the shooting, one of the employees unlocked the door for a customer who wanted to buy beer, he said, recounting the story told to him by Joalale.
“That’s how it’s supposed to be,” Guler said. “The customer is in the store, and the manager doesn’t lock the door while a customer is in the store.”
The assumption, he said, is that nobody would rob the store with a customer present. But in this case, the masked gunman entered just as the customer was about to leave with his beer. “He pointed a gun at the customer, and he handed him his wallet,” Guler said.
As the customer ran out of the store, the gunman strode toward the counter. Guler said Jalal handed a money bag to the robber, but instead of leaving, the gunman came behind the counter.
Guler said Joalale and Jalal “panicked.”
“They were kind of begging,” Guler said. “Nafez was saying, ‘Settle down, settle down.’”
Guler said the gunman “was also really nervous” and fired multiple gunshots. Guler said he later found three bullet holes inside the store.
Guler said his wife was related to Jalal, a native of Jordan. Jalal had been living in the Triangle for years, but his wife and son just moved to the United States about a year ago. Jalal also has four married daughters and one daughter about to be married, all of whom live in Jordan.
Jalal started working at the convenience store several months after his wife arrived and normally worked second shift. Guler said Jalal’s “whole world” was his family, particularly his 19-year-old son, who had come to the United States to attend school. Jalal’s son is enrolled in Durham Tech’s dental program.
“He wanted him to finish school and get a good job,” Guler said about Jalal’s dream for his son.
Last week’s fatal shooting marks the second time in recent years that an employee has been killed by gunfire at a business in this part of Durham.
In December 2012, Mohammed Arfan Sundal, 51, the owner of the Kabab & Curry House, was found mortally wounded in the parking lot behind his restaurant near the corner of Broad Street and Guess Road. The shooting happened minutes after the restaurant’s closing time.
Police have not made an arrest in the 2012 shooting. Guler doesn’t know if the shootings might be connected in some way, but he would like to know why the robber had to shoot his two friends and co-workers.
“Is it worth it?” he asked. “Doesn’t he think about this? He’ll be caught, sooner or later.”
Police ask anyone with information about the robbery and shootings to call CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash for information leading to arrests in felony cases. Callers never have to identify themselves.