Thursday, Mar 23, 2017
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Convenience store proprietor fatally shot

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    Al’s Market at 309 Crittenden Ave., where police say 42-year-old Kamal Awwad was found shot about 9:06 p.m. Saturday evening.

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    Juanita Ramsey and son Christopher Ramsey mourn death of store owner Kamal Awwad.

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  • Crime-Stopper

The proprietor of a South Toledo convenience store who was fatally shot Saturday night was a beloved figure in his community, but he was also facing prosecution for allegedly participating in a crime ring.

Police said 42-year-old Kamal Awwad was found shot about 9:06 p.m. at Al’s Market, 309 Crittenden Ave., in the Old South End, where he worked.

Police were dispatched in response to a robbery alarm and shots being fired. They found Mr. Awwad suffering from at least one gunshot wound. Mr. Awwad was treated and then transported to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center where he later died, police said.

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Juanita Ramsey and son Christopher Ramsey mourn death of store owner Kamal Awwad.

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Detectives are asking anyone with information to call Crimestopper.

“He was such a wonderful guy, always helping people in the neighborhood,” said Juanita Ramsey, 41. She placed a necklace of prayer beads at the entrance of Al’s Market. ”I’ve been knowing him since he had the store,” Mrs. Ramsey said. She said his brothers had the store before him.

She said his children were often in the store with him, and that he was in the store all the time.

“He was a good dude. He had a heart of gold, always telling jokes to make you laugh,” Mrs. Ramsey said. She said he had joke names for lots of people, usually related to their ethnicity. She said she saw Mr. Awwad in the store about 7:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve when she bought a bag of ice.

Mrs. Ramsey’s son, Christopher Ramsey, 14, said he had a friendly relationship with Mr. Awwad, which involved both of them slapping the top of the ice cream chest when young Ramsey would enter. He said they recently had a 14-minute chat about a variety of subjects, including Mr. Awwad’s plans for buying another neighborhood store.

Next-door neighbor Andreia Evans said, ”the kids loved him, everybody loved him.

“My kids go to the store all day everyday. He just was too nice for that to happen to him.” Mrs. Evans said Mr. Awwad called her ”Michelle Obama,” and had a habit of coming out of his store into the street just to make a loud noise.

“No one had to rob him. If you needed anything he’d give it to you,” Mrs. Evans said. 

Jim West, 51, who lives on a nearby street, said Mr. Awwad was “always happy, joking with people.

“He always helped people out. If they didn’t have the money to pay for things he’d let it slide,” Mr. West said. ”They’re going to miss this if the store closes.”

A makeshift shrine made out of a cross and stuck into a beverage crate was in the front of the closed store. Former customers were stopping by.

Mr. Awwad was under a federal indictment in connection with what authorities said was an international criminal operation that sold stolen electronics and knockoff designer clothing. Al’s Market is one of six locations named in the indictment that alleges racketeering, conspiracy, and money-laundering. He was one of 26 people named in the March, 2015, federal grand jury indictment. The case is pending in U.S. District Court. Mr. Awwad had pleaded not guilty. 

The indictment said the “Awwad Family Enterprise” exploited drug addicts and low-income individuals to conduct and facilitate a broad range of criminal activities.

The crime ring not only generated local income but provided cash to build residences in Palestine for family members to own and occupy, the indictment alleged.

At one point in the 69-page indictment, Mr. Awwad was secretly recorded telling another defendant that he keeps "$7,000 to $8,000 hidden in the back room for cashing checks.”

According to the indictment, “Although each store was managed by a different member of the Awwad Family Enterprise, ultimately the stores were under the influence and direction of Mamoun Awwad and functioned as·a unified entity. Each type of store specialized in a different type of criminal scheme to support the Awwad Family Enterprise.”

According to the Lucas County auditor’s office the store was purchased by Mamoun Awwad in 2000.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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