Hours after shop owner Abdel Shalash was shot and killed during a robbery, the nearby Bon-Aire Restaurant & Bar was open as usual.

The Bon-Aire is in the same East Side strip shopping center as Shalash’s beauty-supply store. That night, with a handful of customers inside, the bartender locked the front door around midnight.

“For the customers’ safety and mine,” said Mary, who didn’t want her last name published, fearing for her safety.

“It never used to be this bad,” Mary said. She has tended bar there for 20 years and has called the nearby fire station to send someone to escort her to her car after closing time.
“It’s terrible.”

Several business owners and workers in the shopping plaza on S. Hamilton Road are scared after Monday’s afternoon robbery that took the life of a 48-year-old Palestinian-American and father of six. . .

Police haven’t made any arrests in the death of Shalash. They said two men were seen running from the store after the shooting. Family members have said about $150 was stolen.

At Shalash’s funeral on Tuesday, at least five Muslim and Arab merchants questioned whether criminals are targeting them, said Ahmad Al-Akhras, president of the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio and vice chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Columbus. “Perception is reality, and if the perception of shopkeepers is that they’re being targeted, the city needs to take a closer look at that,” Al-Akhras said.

But Columbus homicide detective Mike McCann said police don’t see any indication of that.


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