A relative of a man killed Tuesday during an apparent armed robbery at the Tire Discount store on Plank Road said the Jerusalem native was trying to live the American dream.
“He was so full of life,” said Muhammad Abu Awwad of his cousin, Zaharan Abu Awwad. “He was always doing something to better himself.”
Zaharan Abu Awwad, 21, was working at his uncle’s tire shop at 6970 Plank Road when he was shot and killed just after 7 p.m., Muhammad Abu Awwad said.
A customer found Zaharan Abu Awwad lying on the floor behind a counter and called authorities, Baton Rouge police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said.
Abu Awwad, who had been shot several times, was dead by the time police arrived, McKneely said.
East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark said Abu Awwad died from a gunshot wound to the chest.
The shooter took an undisclosed amount of cash from the store’s register before fleeing, McKneely said.
Akeya Greavis, a friend and former girlfriend of the shooting victim, said she talked to Abu Awwad minutes before he was slain.
She said they talked about going out to dinner after he got off work later that evening. Although Abu Awwad never called to finalize dinner plans, Greavis said she wasn’t worried and didn’t find out about his death until Wednesday morning.
“I am shocked,” Greavis said about her former boyfriend’s death. “I’m surprised that something like this happened to him.”
Greavis, who dated Abu Awwad three or four years ago, said Abu Awwad immigrated to the United States almost a decade ago and lived in Baton Rouge near his extended family, which owns several businesses in the area, including Tire Discount.
Greavis said Abu Awwad wanted to open several businesses of his own.
“That was his goal,” she said.
Muhammad Abu Awwad said his family, both in the United States and overseas, is devastated about his cousin’s death and wants whoever killed him to be caught and brought to justice.
Muhammad Abu Awwad said he believes his cousin was acquainted with the shooter but did not elaborate.
Greavis said she heard talk that Zaharan Abu Awwad might have been set up by someone who knew him.
McKneely said he could not confirm if that was the case. Police had not made any arrests or named any suspects as of late Wednesday.
Anyone with information about this incident can contact police at (225) 389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.