Dearborn family wants justice after slaying
Dearborn — Ali Aljanabi's family came to the United States from Iraq 20 years ago in search of freedom. After the slaying of his sister on Friday, they're looking for justice.
Saja Aljanabi of Warren was shot late Friday in her car outside of her family's home on Bingham on Dearborn's east side, a rare violent crime in the city.
Aljanabi said he'd been texting with his older sister, waiting for her to arrive to drive her mother to a mosque. He last heard from her at 9:45 p.m. when she pulled up to the family home. She never made it inside, he said.
Aljanabi said he heard a "crack." Then his brother burst into his room in tears to report that Saja, 29, had been shot. Aljanabi said he made it two or three steps outside toward the 2014 Buick Regal before finding his sister's body.
"I looked at her and she was hardly breathing. Her face was facing down on the ground," Aljanabi, 23, said Sunday outside of the family's home. "I pulled her out, flipped her around and tried to give her CPR and rescue her. Her face was all blood. Her shoulder, her chest, all blood. I couldn't know where the bullet is to put pressure on it to stop the bleeding."
"I tried to keep talking to her ... she looked at me and then she slowly closed her eyes," he said, adding police and paramedics arrived but his sister died on the way to Henry Ford Hospital.
Relatives and friends gathered on the porch and filtered inside the house on Sunday. Others gathered at a makeshift memorial of candles, vases with white roses, and framed photographs collecting in the street.
Dearborn police have said Saja Aljanabi was approached by multiple suspects on Bingham near Steadman and Morross, and killed in an apparent armed robbery just before 10 p.m. Friday.
The slaying was one of three robbery attempts reported in the city Friday, police said.
Police have described the suspects that approached the three victims as a short man wearing a white mask, and a tall man with a thin build, both wearing all-black clothing.
Sunday evening, the department released a statement saying they had received several tips that are being "aggressively investigated" with local and federal law enforcement partners.
Police Chief Ronald Haddad said the attack "appears to be a random act of violence" and he believes the motive was robbery.
The slaying, he said has caused unease in the community. "We're going to work hard and we're going to get them" he said of the assailants.
Police also asked residents in the cities of Dearborn and Detroit near Tireman and Schaefer to review any surveillance cameras for suspicious activity between 9 and 11 p.m. Friday.
Ali Aljanabi said he's not yet convinced that the crimes are connected and that his family is frustrated that police haven't provided them with more answers. He said he's not sure what, if anything, was taken from his sister in the attack.
"I want the right guy to be captured," he said. "I don't want that guy to live his whole life smiling, eating every day and seeing his family while my sister is in the grave."
Aljanabi launched an online fundraiser to help pay for a funeral. By 5 p.m. Sunday, it had raised more than $10,000. The family will hold a memorial service for Saja from 6-9 p.m. Monday at Karbala Islamic Center on Warren Avenue in Dearborn.
Crime Stoppers of Michigan is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information is asked to call the Dearborn Police at (313) 943-2241 or (800) SPEAK-UP.
Ali Aljanabi said his mother is in poor health following open heart surgery. His father was killed in Iraq in 2014.
His sister, he said, stopped her schooling to focus on working to support her family.
She'd been employed as a waitress at a banquet hall in Hazel Park and lived in Warren with a younger cousin after the death of their aunt, he said.
She was a "good girl," Aljanabi said, who had "zero enemies."
"Walk up to her, she will do anything for you to help you," he said. "She didn't deserve to die like that. Who are you to do this and why?"
Just two blocks away, longtime Dearborn resident Mike Moustafa expressed disbelief over the killing in the neighborhood that he said has never experienced such a tragedy.
"Like everybody else, I got sad. Poor girl, poor lady," he said. "Nobody likes crime. People got scared."