Hassan Alawsi’s assailant stalked him in the Home Depot parking lot for about eight minutes – cutting up and down aisles as he followed his victim to his car – before felling him with two gunshots in a racially motivated killing, according to Sacramento County sheriff’s detectives.
Eleven days after the shooting, detectives are awaiting transfer of their suspect, Jeffrey Caylor, from Butte County, where he is being held on charges related to the crimes leading up to and following Alawsi’s March 16 death on Florin Road, according to Sacramento County sheriff’s Sgt. Lisa Bowman. When Caylor, 44, returns to Sacramento County, he will be booked on suspicion of murder, as well as other charges, she said.
Caylor’s girlfriend, Kari Hamilton, also is in custody in Butte County. Detectives allege the 42-year-old woman was in the car with Caylor at the time of the fatal shooting – along with her 12-year-old son – but prosecutors have not determined what charges she will face in connection with Alawsi’s death, according to Bowman and court records.
Detectives allege that Caylor did not know Alawsi, 46. But they believe he had a “severe hatred” of people of Middle Eastern descent, Bowman said, and began following the victim after seeing him with his sister, who was dressed in an “Arabic-style dress” and headscarf. A relative of Caylor later told detectives that hatred stemmed from an ongoing dispute with a former landlord.
Alawsi was pronounced dead at the scene, less than one hour after he and his sister arrived at the store to buy gardening supplies, according to a sheriff’s request for Caylor’s arrest warrant. Alawsi’s sister ducked back into the store to use the restroom as Alawsi headed out to the car. When she tried to go back outside, employees had locked the doors, telling customers there was an emergency outside, according to the warrant affidavit.
She eventually made it outside, only to find deputies and police tape surrounding the area where she and her brother had parked, according to the warrant request. Deputies soon told her that her brother was dead.
Efforts by The Sacramento Bee to reach Alawsi’s family were not successful. State records available online indicate he had been a licensed security guard since 2008, and his permit was to expire this summer. He was a refugee to the United States from Jordan, and a fine arts graduate of the University of Baghdad, according to Alawsi’s Facebook page, which is now being used to spread information about his death.
“Inspired by nature, his imperative journey to freedom, people and other cultures, Hassan expresses feelings on canvas through a variety of media – acrylic, pastel, pencil, and watercolor,” Alawsi wrote of himself while publicizing an art show. “Challenges in this new environment spark Hassan’s passion to draw.”
The shooting that took Alawsi’s life came in the middle of a sometimes violent crime spree that detectives attribute to Caylor and Hamilton. It began with a burglary in Sacramento the afternoon of March 16 at the home of two people who reportedly were good friends of the suspects, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
Stolen in the burglary were an iPhone, a garage door opener and keys to two vehicles, the document states.
Less than three hours after the shooting, sheriff’s detectives responded to a home-invasion robbery in Carmichael, in which a female victim was pistol-whipped, according to the warrant request. At 7:30 a.m. the next day, the owner of a liquor store in Carmichael reported that a man driving by pointed a gun at him and pulled the trigger, but the gun apparently malfunctioned, the document states. The liquor store owner told detectives he had been in a long-term dispute with Caylor, and identified him as the would-be gunman.
Detectives said they were then able to link Caylor and Hamilton to the burglary and home-invasion robbery. Sheriff’s detectives sought warrants for both suspects in connection with both crimes, and then obtained a warrant for Caylor’s arrest on a murder charge Wednesday, Bowman said.
Detectives found the green Buick Le Sabre, believed to have been used in the homicide, at the home of Hamilton’s mother. They searched the car as well as the home where Hamilton and Caylor stayed. In those searches, detectives recovered a spent 9 mm cartridge and live 9 mm rounds – the same type of ammunition found at the scene of the shooting – and some items taken in the March 16 burglary, according to the court document.
Caylor and Hamilton were arrested in Butte County on March 17 while in a Honda stolen during the home-invasion robbery, according to detectives. During the arrest, detectives recovered a 9 mm handgun.
Call The Bee’s Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter @Kim_Minugh.