A man living in the US Midwestern state of Oklahoma was killed by a neighbour because he was of Lebanese descent, his family says.
Khalid Jabara of Tulsa was shot and killed Friday by Vernon Stanley Majors, police said. Majors was arrested for first-degree murder and is awaiting formal charges.
The Jabara family said Majors had been tormenting them for years, and had called them “dirty Arabs,” “filthy Lebanese,” and “Mooslems.”
The Jabaras are Christian.
Khalid Jabara had called police on Friday after learning that Majors had acquired a gun, his sister Victoria Jabara Williams said in a public Facebook post calling attention to the tragedy.
“He was scared for what might happen,” Williams wrote. “The police came and told him there was nothing to be done.”
Minutes later, 37-year-old Khalid Jabara was shot and killed outside the front porch of his family home, Williams said.
Responding officers quickly determined that Majors was the shooter after interviewing several witnesses, according to a Tulsa Police Department statement.
“After the shooting Majors pointed his gun at a witness and then fled on foot,” police said.
The family’s outrage is heightened by the fact that Majors had already been in jail for having run over Khalid Jabara’s mother Haifa Jabara with his car while she was jogging last year.
Prosecutors had accused Majors of intentionally assaulting her, leaving her with a broken shoulder and other injuries, according to court records. He was awaiting trial on an aggravated assault charge.
Nevertheless, the defendant was ordered released on $60,000 bond in late May, records show, and he returned to his home next door to the Jabaras.
“He was released from jail with no conditions on his bond -- no ankle monitor, no drug/alcohol testing, nothing,” Williams said. “Our brother’s death could have been prevented.”
The family says the murder was a hate crime. Police say they do not yet have a motive. There have been “many calls to the area that involved Majors acting aggressively towards his neighbours,” police said.
In the days since the Jabara family spoke out about the murder, they have received an outpouring of support “from people all over the country, and in fact all over the world,” family friend Rebecca Abou-Chedid told AFP.
An online campaign to collect funds for the family has raised more than $11,000 from more than 240 contributors.
“This generous spirit really is what America is about,” said Abou-Chedid, adding that the family is planning a private funeral on Thursday at their church, St. Antony Orthodox Christian Church, in Tulsa.
Majors is scheduled for a court hearing on August 22.