National News

Father of Parkland shooting survivors is fatally shot in robbery

Posted July 20, 2018 2:36 p.m. EDT
Updated July 21, 2018 2:31 p.m. EDT

On July 17 a man entered Ayub Ali's grocery store in Margate, Fla., and shot and robbed him, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said. Two of Mr. Ali's children had survived the school shooting in nearby Parkland in February. (Credit: NYTimes via Broward Sheriff's Office)

Two of Ayub Ali’s children cowered in their classrooms as a gunman rampaged through their high school in Parkland, Florida, in February, in an attack that killed 17 people.

The children — Elama, 17, and Rahat, 15 — were unhurt. But gun violence again found their family.

On Friday, the students, their two younger siblings and their mother, Farhana, will stand by the grave of Ali, a 61-year-old grocery store owner who was shot dead in a robbery in North Lauderdale this week. Members of the area’s Bangladeshi community will say prayers. His coffin will be lowered into the ground.

Elama and Rahat, who were still coping with the trauma of the shooting five months ago at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, are showing similar signs of distress in the aftermath of their father’s murder, a family spokesman and friend, Mirza Mustaque, said.

The long periods of stunned silence. The disbelief.

“Sometimes they express it by crying, sometimes they are quiet,” Mustaque said. “We are trying to talk to them, and bring some kids to their home so they can talk, so they don’t feel lonely.”

Ali was a well-known member of the area’s Bangladeshi community, which thrives in Parkland, Coral Springs and Margate. He and his family worshipped at the Jamaat Al Mumineen mosque in Margate, where Ali was known as a regular volunteer at social and cultural events.

About 12:40 p.m. Tuesday, Ali was working at the store he owned in North Lauderdale, Aunt Molly’s Food Store, when a man walked in, took money from the cash register and left, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

But then the man returned and shot Ali, who was brought to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Joy Oglesby, the sheriff’s spokeswoman, said Friday authorities have not made an arrest in the case.

Ali came to the United States about 20 years ago from Bangladesh. He grew up in the village of Nanupur, on the outskirts of the southeastern city of Chittagong, Mustaque and another friend, Ali Munju, said in interviews. He worked hard with partners in the grocery business until he was able to go out on his own and purchase his store, they said.

In addition to Elama and Rahat, Ali was the father of two younger sons: Raihan, 6, and Rahim, almost 2.

“It is serious trauma for them, all of them,” Munju said.

The sadness has also been felt in the community. Friends and customers created a memorial of flowers outside of the store, WSVN reported.

They posted Facebook announcements of plans for Ali’s burial in Hialeah’s Muslim cemetery. In line with Islamic custom, his body was washed and wrapped in a special burial garment.

A remembrance gathering will be held in Pembroke Pines, and friends planned a mourning period at Ali’s home, where people can drop in, bring food and stay awhile.

“Everybody follows the family to the deceased’s house and stays there as long as they can,” Munju said. “All day and all night, somebody is next to them for some days.”

He added, “They make them feel they are not alone, to show them they are not alone, we are next to them.”