Lovingly called Mr. Bean by his customers, Br. Bhimdi was 64 years old and had been operating the store for the past 20 years. “He knew the name of every child,” said Tia Archer, a nearby resident to local media. “He was the soul of the community, a friend to everyone who came by. It is hard to believe anyone would do this.”
History has repeated itself. Br Bhimji's previously owned another store, the Government Road Food Mart, which was known as the most robbed store in the history of Richmond. In 1992, a brutal murder took place there. Bhimdi was not in the store that day 21 years ago, but his clerk 52-year-old Kareem Virani was. Shot in the face, he died several months later, suffering from his injuries.
The perpetrator was given a life sentence; caught based on the surveillance tapes. Bhimdi installed a state of the art camera system in his new store and that along with community support is what helped the Henrico police make an arrest. “I feel like this victim knew a lot of people and had a strong impact on the community and people were willing to step up and say hey, I think I know who that is,” Henrico police Lt. Linda Toney said to CBS News.
Jamon T. Burroughs, 19 was charged with first degree murder in a commission of a robbery. Denied bond, he will make his second court appearance on February 13, 2013. Various news outlets report that he was a frequent visitor to the store. His mother insists that her son is innocent. “From the time they say he did it, he was at home all day. He never went anywhere I was off that day Monday,” she said. “I never saw him go out of the house.”
Farooq Bhimdi was buried at Greenwood Memorial Gardens in Goochland County after the funeral prayer at Islamic Center of Virginia in Chesterfield county. Many attended both the prayer and the burial.
A rally and vigil held on February 1, 2013 for the deceased at 6 p.m. outside his store had loyal customers holding candles, chanting "we love you, we love you" in the cold night. More than a hundred people shed tears for this man who took care of his customers. The testimony was the piles of teddy bears and flowers left at the front of the store since news of his death spread through the neighborhood where the store is located. His children, son (Tashfeen) and two daughters and his son in laws attended the vigil, embraced by a wave of love.
Imam Amonette, the religious leader of ICV in Richmond, led the Janazah salah. "I think he [Bhimdi] demonstrated his faith in his character and his daily conduct, and it showed there how important he was in eastern Henrico," he said to NBC News. The community is still recovering from the loss of Br. Muhammad Taib whose murderer still has not been caught.
The murders urged Malik Khan, chairman of the Asian American Society of Central Virginia, to ask for a meeting with Henrico’s police chief and Frank Thornton, a member of the county Board of Supervisors.
“Asian-American business owners do not feel safe,” he said in an email after Bhimdi’s death.
May Allah grant both of them of them Jannat al Firdaus and grant their families Sabr.