FORT WAYNE -- A triple homicide in Fort Wayne last week received national attention due to the victims’ religious backgrounds and nationalities, but police are now ruling out the possibility that it was a hate crime.
Three males between the ages of 17 and 23 were found shot to death “execution-style” in a home on Fort Wayne’s southeast side last Wednesday evening. Muhannad Tairab, Adam Mekki and Mohamedtaha Omar were identified as the victims. Their families had migrated to Indiana from Africa. Two of the victims were Muslim and the third was Christian.
Speculation grew over the weekend that the crime was motivated by hate. However Fort Wayne Police Department spokesman Michael Joyner says that isn’t the case. He did not give specific reasons for ruling that out.
“This horrific crime has nothing to do with a hate crime whatsoever and I say that definitively, and you can underscore that twice,” said Joyner.
Last week, Joyner said the house was familiar to law enforcement and affiliated with gang related activity. Joyner says the speculation from national outlets casts the city in an inaccurate way.
“They have no stake in this community; they’re not shareholders in this community,” he said. “They could [sic] care less about Fort Wayne. And those of us that live here, we know and appreciate what our community is.”
The homicide was mentioned during a news conference in Plainfield held by the Islamic Society of North America on racially-influenced vandalism Monday afternoon. While little was said on the matter, secretary general Hazem Bata offered his condolences.
“Just a few days ago, in Fort Wayne, just a few hours from here, three people were shot dead execution-style, two of them who were Muslims and the other a Christian brother," Bata said. "Our hearts and our prayers go out to them and their families.”
Joyner says the national attention will not disrupt the department’s investigative process.
“It’s not going to impact how we do our job. You know, we turned a blind eye to that type of rhetoric and that background noise,” he said.
Fort Wayne Police Chief Gerry Hamilton announced over the weekend they would seek FBI assistance with the investigation. As of Monday afternoon, the department had no new information regarding possible suspects or motives for the murders.