Local News

Man murdered in Durham was Afghan refugee who risked life to help American troops

A man who risked his life to protect American troops in Afghanistan -- was murdered in Durham.

Posted Updated

Sarah Krueger
, WRAL reporter
DURHAM, N.C. — A man who risked his life to protect American troops in Afghanistan -- was murdered in Durham.

WRAL News has learned that the victim was a refugee, here seeking safety.

A father of seven, Ainzargul Totakhil was killed Dec. 30, 2022, on Holloway Street – with his wife expecting their eighth child.

According to his cousin, he was driving for Uber, something so many Americans do to makes ends meet for their families.

After working for years helping American troops as a translator in Afghanistan, Totakhil was truly grateful to be here and living out the American dream in a place that was supposed to be safer than his former home.

It was a job that his cousin Yousaf Mangal also did. Mangal said the job required them to risk their lives.

"It is extremely dangerous for those who work with the U.S. troops," Mangal said. "The Taliban are easily targeting those people."

Mangal says the two of them were awarded special visas to come to the U.S. about seven years ago, where they were supposed to be safer.

Both men started driving for Uber.

That's what Mangal says Totakhil was doing at the time he was shot and killed. Police say his body was found in his car on Holloway Street.

"He was a very nice and kind person," Mangal said. "He was just doing his daily work to make money and feed his family."

In a statement, Uber told WRAL News:

“We are profoundly saddened by the senseless act of violence that took Mr. Totakhil’s life, and our thoughts are with his family. We are reaching out to offer support and we have been in touch with law enforcement on their investigation.”

Church World Service, an agency that works with refugees, says they helped Totakhil find a job when he first moved to the country. They said in response to his death, "Ainzargul was such an important addition to our community, a bright light who instantly reminded us of why we do the work we do. He was building a new life here, working hard and contributing to the growth and vitality of our local community. For this to happen, when Ainzargul had finally found the new start he had dreamed of, is a true tragedy. Like much of our community, we mourn this loss and are keeping his loved ones in our thoughts and prayers."

Totakhil leaves behind a wife, seven kids and an eighth on the way -- still back in the Middle East.

Mangal said they were about to move here, and still plan to. He has now started a GoFundMe to help them, and to pay for the funeral.
"We didn't expect that he would be killed because we thought America was more safe than Afghanistan," Mangal said. "But right now, we have been hearing that a lot of crime is taking place here in Durham."

Family tells WRAL News the victim had just become a U.S. citizen the very same month he was killed.

Police have not announced any arrests in the case.


Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.