Dozens of San Bernardino community members gathered to pay their respects to a San Bernardino liquor store clerk who was fatally shot while on the job earlier this week.
Nader Alkouli, 46, was a staple at P&J Liquor, where neighbors can shop for all of their grocery needs, for more than 10 years. In that time, he befriended a number of customers who came to see him as more than an acquaintance.
“It’s like losing a neighbor, really,” said a woman named Donna, among the many gathered in front of the store Friday evening.
“Always asking about my son, even if he wasn’t with me,” one man said through tears. “Good guy. Just trying to provide for his family.”
Alkouli, a husband and father who immigrated from Syria, was fatally shot Tuesday night when witnesses detailed the moments leading up to his death. They told police that a man, since identified as 21-year-old William Norris Jr. walked into the store where some sort of altercation occurred. When they ended up outside, Norris shot Alkouli and fled from the area.
Investigators were able to identify Norris Jr. using security video from the store, arresting him 19 hours later and charging him with murder.
While the motive remains unclear, as police stay tight-lipped, witnesses say it wasn’t worth the trouble, since they believe Norris Jr. was trying to steal something.
“What it was over was just ridiculous,” said another man at the vigil.
“He lost his life over a 25 cent piece of candy and left a family behind,” said a woman named Carol.
Alkouli is remembered by the community as a protective and caring person, even for people whom he didn’t know.
Several of the women in attendance Friday said that he would stand in the doorway of the store to make sure they got to their cars safely. Just one of the many things he did every day that made him such a beloved community member.
“There’s a lot of homeless that come here, and when they would come in, if they were hungry, he would buy them a honey bun,” Carol said.
Norris Jr. has been charged with murder, assault with a firearm and battery. His bail is set at $1.2 million. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.