Man of Arab descent shot; suspect held

Saturday, February 25, 2006
News staff writer

TUSCALOOSA - A man of Arab descent was in fair
condition Friday night after being shot Thursday night
by a man who had been yelling racial slurs outside a
Middle Eastern takeout restaurant near the University
of Alabama campus.

Among those who went to the aid of Nabil Chagri was
John Bart Tyra, a Marine Reservist who returned from a
tour in Iraq nearly a year ago. Afterward, Tyra said
he was sickened by the incident.

"I shed a few tears over it, let's put it that way,"
said Tyra, a Tuscaloosa resident and a lance corporal
in the Bessemer-based 4th Anti-Terrorism Battalion.
"It just breaks my heart that that can happen here in
the United States."

Friday morning, authorities arrested Jason Michael
Gardner, 23, of Northport. He was charged with
attempted murder and discharging a firearm into an
occupied vehicle. Gardner was in the Tuscaloosa County
Jail on Friday night, with bonds set at $130,000.

The incident happened shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday
at the Quick Grill, a small takeout restaurant
specializing in Middle Eastern foods. It's situated on
a stretch of University Boulevard known as the Strip.

Jassim Madan, a native of the Persian Gulf country of
Bahrain, said he has operated the restaurant for about
five years.

Madan said he was inside Thursday night when a
customer told him a man was urinating on the
restaurant. When the man was told to leave, Madan
said, the man used a racial slur and slapped one of
the restaurant's customers.

"Everybody was trying to control this guy," said Tyra,
who had come over with a friend from a nearby bar to
order some food and saw the guy yelling racial slurs.
"He was causing so much drama. He was being a moron."

The man left but threatened to come back, and
ultimately returned alone in his truck with a
.22-caliber rifle and began firing at the rear of a
van parked behind the restaurant, said Lt. Loyd Baker,
commander of the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide

Family in a van

 Chagri, 27, and his wife were in the front of the
van. His young daughter and an infant sibling, in a
car seat, were in the back. Madan said the
Moroccan-born Chagri and his family were customers,
"sitting in the car and waiting for the order."

Tyra said he heard the five or six shots and headed in
that direction. He saw a big hole in the van's rear
window, opened up the passenger side door and saw "the
man ... sitting there slumped over the steering wheel,
and there was blood everywhere." 

 Baker said Chagri was hit in the head and the back,
and that authorities did not know what the assailant's
"motive in this was, if he thought that this man was
the business owner or what."

Tyra and Madan got Chagri out of the van and took him
inside the restaurant, where they used paper napkins
to keep pressure on his head wound. "He was rocking
back and forth real heavily and he was saying a
quotation in Arabic over and over again ...," Tyra
said. "I figure he was praying or something."

He was. Madan said Chagri was saying, "Allahu akhbar,"
"God is great."

Tyra said he spent some time in the van, trying to
calm Chagri's wife and daughter. While there, he
noticed blood spattered on the infant's blanket.

"That kind of shook me up a little bit," he said.

Chagri was in DCH Regional Medical Center.


Shooting Victim Out of Hospital, Arab-American Group
Join Probe

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. --  An Arab-American shot outside a
Tuscaloosa restaurant is out of the hospital.
27-year-old Nabil Chagri was in his van with his wife
and children outside the Quick Grill Thursday night
when a man fired shots into the vehicle. Chagri was
shot in the head and back. His wife and children were
not injured.

Police charged 23-year-old Jason Michael Gardner of
Northport with attempted murder and shooting into an
occupied vehicle. Meanwhile, the Council on
American-Islamic Relations is looking into whether the
shooting should have been a hate crime.

Gardner, who made his first court appearance
yesterday, did not enter a plea and remains jailed in
lieu of $130,00.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten, or redistributed. 


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