RICHMOND TERRACE, Staten Island (WABC) -- A community on Staten Island is grieving Tuesday after a well-known and beloved owner of a deli was shot and killed over the weekend.
The 35-year-old victim, Bassem Alkhateeb, was working when two suspects tried to rob the store on Saturday night.
Alkhateeb, whose birthday is Tuesday, leaves behind two young children and a wife who are now coping with the devastating loss as police try to find the suspects.
Friends and loved ones gathered at the Masjed Noor Al-Islam Society before the funeral prayer for Alkhateeb. They prayed for him and demanded harsher penalties so that criminals will think twice about assaulting or killing hard-working store owners like him.
"Be a man and come forward, you took an innocent man's life - he had two children and a widow," said Hazem Al Asad, the co-owner of store.
The suspects didn't get away with anything and then drove away in a red or maroon Jeep or SUV.
The crime happened in a community that Alkhateeb thought was safe and a good place to raise his family.
"He wanted to have a good business, safe home, buy a house and make a life... wanted the best for his kids - be a doctor," said his wife Khadiga Abo-Obaid.
Friends say he was the most loving and understanding store owner - he never even demanded payment. He kept a black book so that he could extend store credit to people could not pay.
"I've never seen a violent moment from this man, for those two men to come in here and kill him like that, I don't understand," said friend Azimna Burgosgorham.
Jennifer McKenzie worked for him and was with him an hour before he was killed.
"He was like a father to me," she said.
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