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Family hopes poster of slain store clerk spurs arrest of killer

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Bashar Kanouh, the victim's brother, designed the poster that family members distributed.

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For Toledo police, the death of Bassam Kanouh remains an open homicide case nearly 18 months after he was shot while working at a West Toledo carryout.

No one is in custody. No one has been arrested.

For the family of Mr. Kanouh, his loss is felt every day. The wait, the lack of resolution. Both are agonizing.

"When I drive now I shake really bad," his wife, Diane, said. "I'm just a nervous wreck. Basically, I can't leave my house.

"I probably won't be better until that man is caught who killed my husband," she said.

This month, the Perrysburg resident steeled herself. With her three children -- Natalie, 22; Sara, 18, and Alex, 17 -- she visited the former Lewis Carryout at 4252 Lewis Ave., the neighborhood, and other parts of Toledo to hang posters aimed at reminding others of her husband's death and, perhaps, jogging memories.

"Hopefully we get someone to understand, and somebody in the community will step forward and notify the police about what happened," said Mr. Kanouh's brother Bashar, who came up with the idea and designed the poster.

"I thought, you know what, spring is coming, people are starting to move around Toledo. Let's post some pictures," Bashar Kanouh said.

Toledo police Sgt. Tim Noble said, "Any type of publicity like that is nothing but positive."

Bassam Kanouh was a machinist until his employer closed its Perrysburg factory. With few other jobs in a dismal local economy, "he had to help his family any way he could," his wife said.

Carryout customers called him Sam, and he became a favorite. Those who couldn't quite pay for all their items knew he'd make up the difference.

"He'd been like this all his life, if he had a little money in his pocket and somebody else or a family member needed it," his brother said. "He was always a little too generous."

Mrs. Kanouh recalled that when she returned to the carryout neighborhood recently, she was greeted with, " 'He was a great guy' " and " 'It was a shame. It should have never happened.' "

"They, all around the area, knew my husband and liked him," she said. "There's no way he should have died over less than $50. He was a decent, honorable man who did what he could to help his family."

About 9:15 p.m. Nov. 19, 2009, someone came into the store, shot Mr. Kanouh once, and left. Mr. Kanouh, 46, was taken to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, where he died.

A security camera did not record the crime.

"He was the only one in the store, he and the person who shot him," a Toledo detective said at the time.

Still, unsolved homicide cases are never closed. "It is always good to bring it to the forefront to get it solved," Sergeant Noble said. "We have a Crime Stopper phone that is manned 24 hours a day, so we are taking calls about this."

Mr. Kanouh's brother, a Defiance resident, plans to check in with detectives this week.

If months pass, if no leads materialize, "I don't know what I'm going to do," he said. "This is one of my last attempts."

Staff writers Rebecca Conklin and Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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