A 28-year-old military officer from the United Arab Emirates who came to Houston to care for his cancer-stricken father was shot to death by robbers Sunday.
Salem Saif Al Mazrouei was killed about 10:30 p.m., shortly after he and his father returned from prayers at a mosque to their rented apartment in a gated complex in the 8100 block of El Mundo, police said.
The family has been staying at the apartment in south Houston while the father undergoes treatment at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Al Mazrouei and his father had just returned from prayers at the mosque on Almeda near Old Spanish Trail and had stopped by their apartment to gather sweets for what was probably a Ramadan gathering at another apartment in the same complex. The two were followed inside their apartment by two thugs who tried to rob them. When he and his father tried to escape, Al Mazrouei was fatally shot. The criminals then took off in his rented Toyota Avalon, which was later found on the other side of highway 288.
Although the Chronicle article doesn't mention it, a story about this crime in The National suggests that the father and son, who are from the emirate of Ras al Khaimah in the northern part of the UAE, might have been targeted because they were wearing "national dress," i.e. robe and headdress:
“They were wearing their traditional Middle Eastern dress, and by some accounts you could assume they were targeted because of that, but we don’t know that for certain right now,” said Officer M Miller, a Houston police homicide investigator.
If that's the case, then this might be a hate crime in addition to being a carjacking, robbery and murder. But the investigation is ongoing, and the murderers remain at large.
I am repulsed by this crime not only because it is a senseless murder, but also because it happened to a person whose family had decided to come all the way to Houston from the Emirates to seek cancer treatment for their father.
The National article speaks highly of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Sheikh Kalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, donated $150 million to M.D. Anderson earlier this year, which says a lot about the esteem with which M.D. Anderson is held in the UAE.
Since this site still gets a fair amount of web traffic from the UAE, I would like to say this to anyone from there that might be reading this, be they Emirati or expat: these scumbags are not representative of the people of Houston. Right now there is nothing to suggest that this crime is anything other than an isolated incident, and the thugs who committed it will eventually be caught and brought to justice. Do not let this horrible crime deter you from seeking treatment at M.D. Anderson.
UPDATE: both suspects in Al Mazrouei's murder have been apprehended.