Accused shooter fired gun ignoring pleas to stop from customer, worker

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Police cruisers lined Elm Street following a reported shooting on May 10, 2021. Photo/Mike Gonzales

MANCHESTER, NH – A man shot several times outside a popular downtown restaurant went there early Monday night to pick up his final check after being fired by Zabayullah Qahir, the same man now accused of shooting him.

Qahir, 29, of 1011 Meadow Lane, Dunbarton, is being preventively detained (without bail) on a charge of first-degree assault.  A not guilty plea was entered to the charge Tuesday in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District.

According to court records, the shooting happened about 6:15 p.m. outside USA Chicken and Biscuit, 990 Elm St., and was witnessed by several people, two of whom told Qahir to stop after he retrieved a gun from inside the restaurant and headed back outside with it.

“Get out of my way,” Qahir told Ahmad Hakefi, 30, who was working for Doordash at the time and had told Qahir to stop. Hakefi told police he then saw Qahir shoot the other man, identified by court records only as “S.B.”, three times.

Qahir/MPD

Donald Vandenberghe, 63, was sitting in the outside seating area at Castrol’s Back Room, 972 Elm St., when he saw two men, one he described as short and stocky and the other, tall, thin and bald, arguing outside the restaurant.  During the argument, he said he heard the shorter, stockier man, who he described as possibly being of Middle-Eastern descent, use racial slurs in addressing the other man, who he said was black.

Vandenberghe said the argument lasted a couple of minutes when the shorter man went back into the restaurant.  The tall man put down his bag and was gesturing at the other man. However, Vandenberghe said he did not make any attempt to follow the other man into the store.  Vandenberghe said at this point it was a “passive fight.” 

The stockier man then came out of the restaurant and, without saying a word, shot the other man.  Vandenberghe took a quick photo of the man holding the gun after the incident, according to investigators.

Jennifer Ruathi, 35, was waiting in her car with her children directly in front of the restaurant while her husband was inside getting food.  She, too, saw the two men arguing.  When the argument ended, she said the tall man picked up his belongings and took one to two steps away from the restaurant.

She told police that all of a sudden the other man emerged from the restaurant with a “small black gun” and immediately opened fire, shooting the other man three times.  The shooter then tucked the gun into his waistband.

Ruathi said she thought the fight was over and appeared surprised when the man emerged shooting.

Joachim Maruchu, 33, Ruathi’s husband, was inside the restaurant at the time of the shooting. He saw the two men arguing in the doorway and told police Qahir shoved S.B. out the door.  At that point, Maruchu said, S.B. yelled for the other man to come out and fight him, but he did not reenter USA Chicken and Biscuit.

He heard Qahir tell S.B. to “wait right there.”

Qahir then ran toward the restaurant kitchen and pulled out a black handgun.  Maruchu said he and another person in the store told him to stop but they did not intervene any further because he appeared extremely mad and Maruchu was nervous about what might happen if he tried to stop him.

Qahir then stepped outside the restaurant and, without saying a word, shot S.B., according to court records.

The shooting victim, as of Monday night, was hospitalized in serious condition with life-threatening injuries, according to police.

Officer Jack Wagoner, in his affidavit, said witness statements preclude an establishment of a self-defense claim for Qahir.  S.B. never followed Qahir back into the restaurant once the argument was over and Qahir was the one who returned to S.B. and immediately shot him, Wagoner wrote.

It is not the first Qahir has been connected to a downtown shooting, albeit in an earlier one he was a victim.

Qahir and his brother, Sifathullah Woodod, also of Dunbarton, were shot on Dec. 21, 2019, outside the Red Arrow

Aweis Khamis, 21, of 53 Walker St., Apt. 1S, is charged with two counts of first-degree assault and one charge of reckless conduct in the incident.

According to court records, Khamis fired five rounds about 2:40 a.m. that day, with one of the bullets entering the diner below a large window and missing a customer by about a foot.

Qahir was shot in the right buttock with the bullet shattering two vertebrae and coming to rest against his left pelvis, a doctor told a detective.

A bullet nicked an artery in Woodod’s neck and a “projectile” was recovered from Woodod’s chest.