An Iraqi refugee family is mourning the loss of one of their own, less than a year after resettling in the United States. Ahmed Zainuldeen was thein Arapahoe County and died on Wednesday.
"I'm just completely gutted by what's happened to their son," said Anna Hanel.
Zainuldeen, 23, was identified by Hanel and his family as the victim of an early morning carjacking.
Hanel is a case worker with the African Community Center in Denver and has been working with the Zainuldeen family since they fled Iraq to Egypt and eventually gained entry as refugees in the U.S. in November 2022.
"They came here fleeing war and violence and persecution, and in less than a year of being here, look what happened," said Hanel.
Ahmed and his brother were already working hard to make a bright future for his family.
"Initially, both guys were working as janitorial staff at Colorado Athletic Club, and then he was working for Duffey Roll," said Hanel. "Bright guy, amazing future, super smart, so curious. He had plans. He had plans."
The shooting and carjacking took place around 1 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office. Ahmed was killed in parking lot of his family's apartment.
"I cannot imagine the depths of despair that those parents are in right now," said Hanel.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office continues to search for four male suspects, believed to be teenagers and connected to the shooting. They are also looking for the victim's car, which is a 2012 silver Hyundai Sonata with the Colorado license plate CLY-X69.
In losing Ahmed, Hanel says the family is also losing some of the financial support that's kept them sustained living in Colorado.
"Because the family all worked to support each other to help their parents, and moving forward it will just be even more challenging," said Hanel.
Ahmed wanted to become an airline pilot or go into the IT field. Now, all these dreams remain just a part of his memory.
"They were building a life here and this is just unfathomable that this happened to them," said Hanel.
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