WASHINGTON — The father of one of two murdered Germantown teens railed against the notion that his son’s fatal shooting was in retaliation for a drug-related December robbery Sunday, calling the suggestion a “lie.”
“He is such a sweet person,” Adi Najjar, father of slain 17-year-old Shadi Adi Najjar, told WTOP. “Loving, lovable person. He would never try to harm anybody.”
Najjar said that he and his wife went to great pains to ensure that their son had everything he needed — which is why he doesn’t believe the idea that Shadi would have been involved in a robbery.
“You know, the lady, she’s accusing my son of stealing. My son doesn’t need [anything]. He has everything,” Najjar said. “So he doesn’t need an iPad.”
“This is a big lie,” he said.
Najjar is referring to a Saturday night press conference where Montgomery County police Chief Tom Manger revealed that the then-girlfriend of one of the three men arrested in connection to the murder case had reported an iPad robbery to police.
In that report, she claims a blue Honda Civic had approached her while she was walking and someone in the car grabbed her iPad and dragged her for about 50 feet.
Najjar and his friend Artem S. Ziberov, 18, were both found shot dead June 5 in a blue Honda Civic in the 8200 block of Gallery Court hours before they were set to graduate.
“It’s believed this was the robbery that Najjar, the victim in the homicide, was rumored to have participated in,” Manger said.
“At this time, it is unknown if there is a motive for killing Ziberov or if his death was incidental to the killing of Najjar,” he added.
But Shadi’s father believes gang violence is behind his son’s death.
“They arrested the three. And I know there is more than three because I believe this is a gang. Not an individual, two people — no,” Najjar said. “I believe this is a gang and there’s a lot [more] to the story than we know.”
The three men Saturday night in connection to the fatal shooting of Najjar and Ziberov are:
- Edgar Garcia-Gaona, 24, of Gaithersburg;
- Roger Garcia, 19, of Germantown; and
- Jose Ovilson Canales-Yanez, 25, of Gaithersburg.
They have all been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, police said.
Najjar’s cellphone was removed from the car by a suspect, Manger said.
And it was Najjar’s friend who told police the 17-year-old may have been involved in a drug-related robbery late last year or earlier this year. The friend received Najjar’s last communication before his death, saying he was planning to sell graduation tickets to Roger Garcia, Manger said. It is possible this was a ruse to get the teen to the location where he was killed, according to police.
Investigators then interviewed Roger Garcia, who said he did not know either Najjar or Ziberov. He also said he did not buy graduation tickets from them. He did say, however, that he went to Northwest High School, Manger said.
Police then learned that Edgar Garcia-Gaona was Roger Garcia’s brother, and Jose Ovilson Canales-Yanez identified himself as Garcia-Gaona’s friend. And it was Canales-Yanez’s then-girlfriend who had reported a robbery to police, Manger said.
Police executed a search warrant at Garcia-Gaona’s residence in Gaithersburg Saturday. Manger said detectives found a partial box of .40-caliber ammunition, and that 11 out of the 30 shell casings recovered at the crime scene were similar to those found at the residence.
“My son is not here to defend himself,” Najjar told WTOP.
He said that his son would never be around “bad people.”
“And if there are bad people out there, and they know something, you know, come clean and say your piece,” Najjar said, echoing police. “Because my son cannot defend himself.”
Najjar also called his son’s murder a hate crime and was emphatic in his calls for the guilty to be punished “to the extreme justice,” saying they should spend “forever in jail.”
“A killer is going to be a killer always,” he said.
Najjar suggested that the real reason for his son’s murder was Shadi’s refusal to join the gang.
“Maybe they tried to, you know, get him to be with this stupid gang and my boy doesn’t like that — and they kill him,” he said.
Najjar offered thanks to the police working on the case.
“Whoever made this possible, to make the arrests, I thank them all for the hard work, I know they did hard work to come to this conclusion,” he said.
But he also cautioned people not to believe what they hear.
“My boy is not here to defend himself,” Najjar reiterated. “He’s a beautiful young man.”
And had harsh words for his son’s killers.
“I hope, from God, I pray every day that they rot in hell, in jail, for ever and ever.”
Montgomery County police Chief Manger said the investigation is still ongoing.
Police believe there are additional sources who have not yet come forward and encourage those with more information to contact them.
WTOP’s Mike Murillo and Teta Alim contributed to this report.
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