The three victims were ages 17, 20 and 23
They were found in a home in Fort Wayne that police say is linked to gang activity
"They will always be remembered as good kids," relative says
An investigation is underway after three young men were found shot to death “execution-style” in a house in Indiana, authorities said.
Their bodies were discovered Wednesday in a home in Fort Wayne, according to Fort Wayne Police Department spokesman Officer Michael Joyner. He told CNN the person who lived in the home was away at the time the bodies were found, but the three victims were “familiar” to the home and had the right to be there.
All three deaths were classified as homicides, the Allen County Coroner’s Office said. It did not specify whether they were shot once or multiple times.
Police rule out hate crime
The coroner’s office identified the victims as Muhannad Adam Tairab, 17; Adam Kamel Mekki, 20; and Mohamedtaha Omar, 23.
All three come from east African families, according to local media. Joyner said they were U.S. citizens, “originally not from this country,” and that two were Muslim and one was Christian.
He said police are sure the killing was not a hate crime. “We are still trying to determine a motive or suspects, but we have ruled out hate crime,” Joyner said.
“These young people were just starting out in their life,” Fort Wayne Police Chief Garry Hamilton told CNN affiliate WANE TV.
Valerie Handschu told WANE she knew Mekki and Omar from her time working at the Salvation Army Youth Center, which the two attended.
Mekki was “sweet and genuine and was just full of joy and energy,” she said. She described Omar as someone who “could make anybody laugh” and “could find a connection with any type of person.”
“They will always be remembered as good kids,” Abdelaziz Hassab, a relative of Omar’s and Tairab’s, told WANE at their funeral. “We all came here to find like peace and security away from war zones. But the destiny waiting for us here is … really crazy.”
Joyner said the house where the bodies were found “is very familiar to law enforcement due to gang activity.”
“It had been a place where young people would go – there was no adult supervision,” Rusty York, the city’s public safety director, told WANE. “We were aware that this home had become a problem for the neighborhood.”
York said the killings probably occurred “within an hour” because a group of people left the home only to return shortly after and discover the grisly scene.
Police seek information
Hamilton said based on the number of victims, there had to be multiple people present when the crime was committed.
“It’s hard for one person to commit that act by himself,” he told WANE TV.
Hamilton attended the funeral for Omar and Tairab on Saturday, imploring anyone with information to come forward.
“I need someone to come and tell me what they know,” he said. “Please, I’m asking for your help and your mercy to bring justice for these young men.”