Shock, fear after Iraqi mother of five beaten to death
The local Iraqi community expressed shock over the fatal beating of an Iraqi immigrant, as police try to determine whether she was the victim of a hate crime.
Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Sunday that Alawadi's children and husband "are just trying to cope, as the discussion turns to planning a funeral. They're still kind of numb."
"The family, and the community, is concerned that there is a possibility that this is a hate crime," Mohebi added. "We've had some stuff in the past — insults mostly — but nothing physical. This is shocking to the community, the state and even the country."
Near the body of the 32-year-old Alawadi, police found what has been described as a threatening note. Police have declined to release the text, but relatives and friends say the handwritten note warned Alawadi to "go back to your own country" and labeled her a terrorist.
The family told police they had received a similarly threatening note several days earlier but considered it a prank by teenagers.
Alawadi was found unconscious Wednesday morning in the dining room of the family's home by her 17-year-old daughter. She was taken to a hospital, where she was diagnosed as brain-dead. Her family decided on Saturday to discontinue life support.
Police said that whatever the motive, the attack appears to be "an isolated event," not part of an overall pattern of violence toward immigrants.
"We're investigating all aspects of this crime," Lt. Mark Coit said Sunday. "The minute you rule out a possible motive, you start to get tunnel vision. As of now, we have not ruled out any of the motives for why people kill people."
Coit said police are unsure about the murder weapon but that Alawadi was beaten with a large object.
Alawadi and her husband had moved to El Cajon from a Detroit suburb several weeks ago. The two areas are considered the most popular destinations for Iraqi immigrants to the United States.
--Tony Perry in San Diego