Store slayings hit close to home for HPD officer
Sahib Ali Khan had again wanted to own a convenience store, despite advice from his brother-in-law, a Houston police officer who trains store owners about safety measures.
Two months ago, Khan decided to buy a north Houston grab store. On Wednesday, the 58-year-old was stabbed to death during a robbery of the building, which was being remodeled. Khan was alone around 3:15 p.m. when someone attacked him, then stole some items and fled.
“I don’t tell other people what to do, but with him, as a brother-in-law, I told him to stay away from this business because this business is very, very dangerous,” said Muzaffar Siddiqi, the Houston Police Department’s liaison to convenience store owners and the Muslim community. “I told him: This is not a good business for you.”
Khan had added the store in the 3500 block of Elysian to his portfolio of businesses, that includes a U-HAUL outlet.
For years, Siddiqi has been among the first to comfort families who lose a loved one to the dangerous task of tending a store.
This time, he had trouble playing that role.
“They all know me. I’m the one who goes out to talk to them when they’re in need,” he said, breaking down in tears. “I try to console all the family but I have no words to give.”
Khan leaves a wife, Durdana, and three children — a 4-year-old boy, teenage daughter and 23-year-old son.
“His life was just his family and he was doing everything he was doing to raise his family,” Siddiqi said.
Immigrant from Pakistan
As visitors circulated through the Khan home in Cypress on Thursday afternoon, the store owner’s wife sobbed in a dark living room while surrounded by women and girls observing hijab.
Khan emigrated from Pakistan more than two decades ago and settled in Wharton. Years ago, he owned a convenience store in downtown Houston and previously owned a picture framing business in Allen Center, relatives and friends said. Siddiqi said his brother-in-law was “a very generous guy” who frequently collected clothes to send to Pakistan and put together items to help earthquake survivors in Haiti.
He focused on his family and planned to open the store in a few weeks.
Zulnoorain Khan, 62, the victim’s brother, said he opted to run an Exxon gas station with an auto repair shop to reduce safety risks.
"Convenience stores are very dangerous," he said, shaking his head.
An employee tending a retail establishment, such as a convenience store or pawn shop, accounted for 40 percent of last year's workplace slayings statewide, according to preliminary data released last month by the Texas Department of Insurance.
The City of Houston requires convenience store owners to register with the Police Department. Each registered establishment receives safety training materials that all employees must review. Each store also is required to have a silent alarm and at least two digital surveillance cameras.
"I always talk to them about how to protect your store and what to do to protect your store. Awareness is very important," Siddiqi said. "It's very important to register with the Houston Police Department. The police will know where your store is at. Always follow the safety tips, be observant and make sure your camera is working.
"Convenience stores are a convenient target for the bad people," Siddiqi said. "They know if you go inside, you're going to get the money quick. A convenience store is a great convenience for crooks."
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