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US police charge 17-year-old in shooting of Iraqi man

March 13, 2015

DALLAS (AP) — Police say a suspect arrested Friday in the killing of an Iraqi man taking photos of his first snow said he was looking for whoever shot at his girlfriend’s home when he randomly came upon the victim and opened fire.

Nykerion Nealon, 17, was being held without bond on a murder charge in last week’s death of Ahmed Al-Jumaili, who in February moved to Dallas to escape violence in his homeland.

“We don’t believe he knew Mr. Al-Jumaili. We don’t believe he knew Mr. Al-Jumaili’s ethnicity,” police Maj. Jeff Cotner told a news conference Friday. Cotner had earlier said police do not believe the killing was a hate crime.

Al-Jumaili on the night of March 4 was outside his apartment complex taking snapshots of snow when he was shot. He died the next day.

“Mr. Al-Jumaili was enjoying the snowfall with his wife and brother when he was shot, then he ran toward his apartment and collapsed in the breezeway,” Cotner said.

Nealon never contacted police about gunfire earlier that evening at his girlfriend’s nearby apartment complex until after the fatal shooting, Cotner said. Police believe Nealon had a rifle when he and three friends went out to find out who had opened fire at the apartment. Police are investigating whether gang activity was involved.

No attorney was listed for Nealon. Nobody else has been charged in the slaying.

“Our community has been at a loss for words and very saddened by this tragic death,” said Alia Salem, the executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who has served as the family’s spokeswoman. ”... We just want to see justice happen here.”

The victim’s father-in-law, Mohammed Altaae, was at the police news conference but did not comment.

Altaae earlier this week told The Associated Press that Al-Jumaili fled violence in Iraq to reunite with his wife and had been in Texas just three weeks when he was killed.

“He had a lot of faith in his future,” Altaae said, “a lot of faith in his destiny.”

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