Family remembers man killed in pizza shop robbery as religious, kindhearted: ‘He’s my hero’

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AKRON, Ohio-- Religious, kindhearted and working his way through college. That's how family and friends describe an Akron pizza shop clerk who was gunned down during a robbery.

The family of Zakeria Husein, 21, is offering a $50,000 reward for information that can help lead police to the killer or killers. Investigators also believe the killing could be related to two other recent armed robberies in the city.

"I wanted to be his hero. I'm not; he's my hero," said Zakeria's brother, Ammar Husein.

Husein says his younger brother was working his way through the University of Akron.

He was closing up for the night at the family-owned New York Style Pizza shop on East Glenwood Avenue in Akron. Surveillance video shows around 10:40 p.m. Monday, a person with their face covered and gun in hand, walks straight to the counter.

"The clerk does everything that you'd expect him to do, opens the register, starts putting money on the counter, suspect grabs the money, fires a shot and out the door he goes," said Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards.

Ammar, who was also in the shop, said he was able to pray with his younger brother before he died.

"He was able to say there is no God, but God, Mohammed is his messenger, but ultimately that puts a lot of ease on the souls of our family and all of our hearts," he said.

"The clothing and the description is almost exactly the same," said Lt. Edwards. referring to other recent incidents.

Akron police are looking into whether Zakeria's killing is related to armed robberies at two Family Dollar stores in Akron two nights earlier. A gun was fired in one incident, but no one was hurt.
"One of the clerks, a 63-year-old male, was pistol whipped in the process of them getting the money. They take the money and they leave. Within a half hour, they are now down on South Main Street, in the south end of Akron, go into a Family Dollar there, go in and do the same thing," said Lt. Edwards.

"If you got what you wanted, why would you do such a thing? Why would you take someone else's life?" said one of Zakeria's friends, Moe Mishal.

"We grew up together, never really a dull moment. He would always try to make you smile, always try to make you feel not left out," said friend, Mohammed Najjar.

Zak's brother said he was majoring in international business and would have been the first of his five siblings to graduate college.

"We need to remember to ask God not to take us until he's pleased with us and I hope God was pleased with Zak, 'cause I am and our family is," his brother said.

Zakeria Husein, a 2012 graduate of Springfield High School, was remembered with a moment of silence, just before the school's varsity basketball Tuesday night.

The University of Akron is offering grief counselors to students. They said Husein was an active student in the Muslim Students Association on campus.

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