Family finds hope in suspect's arrest 9 years after father's shooting death

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Ferndale — Her voice trembling, Candace Samona was barely able to find the words to describe the arrest of a suspect nine years after her father was killed at their family dollar store. 

"I remember every single detail that happened that day ... and now, after all these years (that) we've been waiting for answers," Samona said. "I kinda have a mix of emotions. It's a bittersweet moment that justice is finally going to be served not for us, but for him."

Ferndale police arrested a 48-year-old man from Romulus on Thursday after receiving a tip earlier this year and re-examining the case.

Karim Khamarko with his grandson before his death in November 2010.

Samona said her family has been "waiting for this moment," lingering in limbo over unanswered questions for years.

Samona of Southfield was 23 years old when she received a call from a Ferndale police officer on Nov. 26, 2010, telling her to get her family to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak immediately.

By the time they arrived, 64-year-old Karim Khamarko, the father of five and grandfather of three, was gone. 

Officers had responded at 9 p.m. to the Dollar Club Plus at 2750 Hilton Road in Ferndale. A witness called 911 to report the owner was on the floor, bleeding and having trouble breathing, Ferndale police said.

Khamarko had been shot multiple times wounds, according to a police report at the time.

Tribute photos of Karim Khamarko still hang in the Southfield family's home.

They said detectives followed up on many tips and leads throughout the initial phase of the investigation but none led to an arrest. At one time, a Crime Stoppers reward for $20,000 was being offered for information into the case. 

"Since 2010, the case has remained open and detectives have periodically re-examined the case file in hopes of discovering new information that would bring the killer of Karim Khamarko to justice," Ferndale police said in a statement Thursday. "Earlier this year, evidence was discovered that lead to the identification and arrest of a suspect."

Police have requested a murder warrant from the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office.

Khamarko's family said no amount of money taken by the suspect was worth taking his life. The Southfield resident had multiple businesses in Ferndale for more than 15 years, including the dollar store and a video store. The family closed the dollar store in 2011 after the incident.

"He was a very humble family man. He revolved his life around his kids and had three grandchildren," Samona said. "He loved to garden and barbecue. He was our handyman whose main priority was making sure his family was happy."

She said her family can now find closure after "unbearable years."

"These past nine years, living life without him, has been so hard not knowing what happened," she said. "We're in shock, but mainly because we lost hope and didn't think there would ever be justice.

"But, in reality, there is hope."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_