Police were still searching for a suspect captured on surveillance video and wanted in connection with the death of a bodega clerk in Ridgewood last Thursday evening.
The clerk, who was beloved in his community, was shot and killed by an unknown assailant in an apparent robbery early last Thursday evening, police and friends said.
Police said 26-year-old Ishak Ghali was shot inside the All Friends Deli, at 675 Onderdonk Ave. in Ridgewood, and an unknown amount of money was missing from the cash register.
No arrests had been made as of Wednesday evening, police said.
Friends described the Egyptian-born Ghali as kindhearted and a hard worker who was next in line among his family members to own his own shop. His family owned about three or four bodegas and delis in the area, according to people familiar with them.
“What a wonderful person,” said Maria, who lives in the neighborhood and was friendly with Ghali. “I can’t believe he’s gone.” She declined to give her last name.
She was at the bodega Friday morning to place flowers at the boarded-up storefront and struggled against the wind to light candles that lined the stoop. Another woman who said she was Ghali’s neighbor also brought flowers, and several other people who lived in the area who passed by shook their heads in dismay.
Maria said she got to know Ghali because she went to the bodega everyday to buy cigarettes, tea and coffee. She said she would joke with Ghali and he would often offer her comfort if she was feeling down.
“If I was crying, he’d tell me not to worry,” she said, saying he would tell her: “You have to thank God every day you’re alive.”
She said there were a number of rumors going around, including that Ghali had been shot hours before 6 p.m., when police said they received the call. She said she had heard one of the owners of the bodega found Ghali shot dead behind the counter.
“I heard it wasn’t his shift to work either,” she said.
Others who knew him recalled Ghali as a generous person who would quickly tell his customers to just pay him back later if they were short of change.
“If you needed something, he gave it to you,” said Thomas Reichling, who lives in the neighborhood and often patronized the store.
Some residents were spooked by the violence, saying another man had been shot about two weeks ago a few blocks away. They warily watched a Crime Stoppers van drive through the neighborhood asking people with any information about Ghali’s murder to call its hotline.
“This neighborhood is getting bad,” said Anthony Governale, who also knew Ghali.
Beschoi Kamal, another man who was an acquaintance of Ghali’s, was visibly upset when he heard there probably was no surveillance video of the shooting.
“That’s it, that’s it. There’s no way they’re going to get him,” he said angrily, referring to the shooter.
Police confirmed there was no video from the bodega itself.
Maria also decried the senselessness of gunning down someone for what she said could not have been a lot of money.
“This is not a spot to rob,” she said. “They were probably just barely making it.”
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2012 Community News Group
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