Investigators believe fatal beating of Iraqi woman was ‘isolated incident’
EL CAJON (CNS) – The fatal beating of an Iraqi woman in her El Cajon
home, in what may have been a hate crime, appeared to be an “isolated
incident,” the chief of the city's police department said Monday.
Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of five, was found unconscious
about 11:15 a.m. last Wednesday by her 17-year-old daughter in the dining room
of their home in the 500 block of Skyview Street, according to El Cajon police.
She was hospitalized until Saturday, when she was taken off life support
around 3 p.m.
El Cajon police Chief Jim Redman told reporters this afternoon that one
window in the house the victim shared with her husband and children had been
broken, and confirmed that a note was found near her body but would not reveal
what it said.
“Based on the contents of this note, we are not ruling out the
possibility this may be a hate crime,” he said. “At this time we are not
revealing the contents of the note, but it was threatening in nature.
“I want to stress there is other evidence in this case that we are
looking at, and the possibility of a hate crime is just one of the aspects of
this investigation. We are still in the very early stages of this investigation
and have not drawn any conclusions at this point.”
A similar threatening note was received by the family earlier this
month, but they did not report it to authorities, Redman confirmed.
“Based on the evidence thus far, we believe this is an isolated
incident,” he said. “I encourage anyone in the community who has information
regarding this case to please contact the El Cajon Police Department.”
Redman added that he could not “comment on the evidence or the reasons
why we believe it's an isolated incident, other than to just assure the
community that that's our strong belief.”
He said all family members had been interviewed.
The victim's teenage daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, told reporters her
mother had been beaten with a tire iron and the note left in the home said, in
part, “go back to your country, you terrorist.”
Redman said the ECPD has never before recorded a hate crime against
Middle Easterners, tens of thousands of whom live in San Diego's East County, a
mix of Muslims and Chaldeans.
Police have sealed the county coroner's report about the death, but
Redman said the victim died of head injuries. It was not immediately clear
whether an autopsy had been completed.
Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said today that Alawadi would be
buried in Baghdad, but it was unclear when her body would be released by
authorities in San Diego.
Alawadi wore a traditional Muslim hijab, or headscarf, and had lived in
the home only a few weeks, having just recently moved back to San Diego County
from Michigan, according to a family friend.
Her husband had worked in San Diego as a contractor for the U.S. Army,
serving as a cultural adviser to train soldiers who were being deployed to the
Middle East. Redman said he had been placed on disability, and the victim
apparently did not work.
In addition to her husband and 17-year-old daughter, Alawadi is survived
by four other children, the youngest of whom is 7.
In the wake of the slaying, a Facebook campaign was started in honor of
Alawadi. It calls on women of all races all over the world to wear a hijab for
at least one day in April.