For family of Pakistani-American Lyft driver killed in carjacking, life ‘starts again’

Abdul Rauf Khan, center, with his wife, Saba Rauf, left, and their 17-year-old daughter. MUST CREDIT: Suzanne Watts. via The Washington Post Syndicated Service

Agha Raza Ali remembers the Saturday down to the minute.

He spent the afternoon taking his Uncle Abdul Rauf Khan’s daughter for a visit to the University of Virginia. Then, on the ride home, he called Khan at 4:30 p.m. and the two, who talked to each other at least two or three times a day, chatted as they always did.

Khan was working on Feb. 26 as a ride-hail driver with Lyft. At 5:38 p.m., as Ali neared his home in the Springfield, Va., area, he called his uncle again to see whether he should drop his daughter off or if Khan was going to pick her up.

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The phone went straight to voice mail.

Miles away, the 71-year-old had been found at about 5:30 p.m. in the middle of a road in Temple Hills, Md., with gunshot wounds. Khan’s car had been stolen, and he had no identification on him.

It would take hours, multiple phone calls to police and area hospitals, and a missing person’s report until the family found out the patriarch was killed. In the days after, Prince George’s County police announced they arrested and charged a 17-year-old with murder and carjacking. For Khan’s family, the arrest brings little comfort. A provider for his wife and 17-year-old daughter, the family struggles to understand why he was killed and how their lives will go on.

“They shot him, left him on the street. Like he’s nobody,” Ali said. “He has family. He has kids. You can’t do this to somebody.”

Khan was a beloved member of the Springfield community, family and friends said.

From Pakistan, he studied journalism and then came to New York where he started his own businesses, Ali said. In the late 1990s, Khan moved to Virginia, where he put down roots and founded a restaurant in Springfield called Chutney.

Kashif Khan, a friend for more than 30 years, said the restaurant was a gathering place for all, and Abdul Khan was known for his welcoming spirit. He would cater funerals when needed and used his restaurant for free, Kashif Khan said.

“He ran the restaurant in Virginia for a long time, where everybody used to go and sit because he used to take care of everybody really well,” Kashif Khan said. “He was just . . . a community leader.”

In 2018, he was recognized for his bravery by the Alexandria Police department for saving an officer’s life.

Ali said Khan described to him how he stepped in, jumping on the assailant and rescuing the officer from a knife attack.

“You recognized that the officer was in trouble and without concern for your own safety, rushed to her aid and thwarted any further attack,” the chief’s commendation to Khan said.

The father and husband had started driving for Lyft to support the family after falling on some hard times, said Ali, who is also Khan’s business partner.

“We were always trying to meet our goals and make our ends meet to provide for the family,” he said.

By 9 p.m. on Feb. 26, their worries grew and a search effort launched. Both of Khan’s phones, his personal and the one he used as a Lyft driver, were off, Ali said. His wife, Saba Rauf, called Ali and told him Khan hadn’t returned home.

They tried District of Columbia police first, since his ride hails can take him to the D.C. area, and they asked if any accidents had been reported under Khan’s name. Ali said police told them none were reported, so the family tried to file a missing person’s report.

“They said that they won’t do it for 12 hours,” Ali said.

In an email to The Washington Post, a D.C. police spokesperson said, “There is no minimum time requirement that a person must be missing before a missing-person report can be prepared.” The department said it follows its policies on how to handle missing persons cases.

The family next called Fairfax County, their local police department. Fairfax County police said officers met with the family at their home around 10:30 p.m. and tried to locate Khan “through several investigative steps” but were unable to find or reach him.

“During the officer’s investigation, the information available at the time did not meet the State’s standards to enter him as a missing person,” the department said in an email.

Fairfax County police said that shortly after they left the family’s home, the agency was contacted by a Prince George’s County detective. The officer provided the investigator with contact information and details from Khan’s family.

Meanwhile, the family tried to locate his car, Ali said, hoping it would lead to Khan. They reached out to Lyft and said the company told them it would have to abide by its law enforcement support policy and would not immediately provide access to Khan’s account or location.

Ali got into Khan’s home computer and pulled data on his last call and the last known location of him, which was in Prince George’s County. He called hospitals from Baltimore to Richmond in desperate search.

“Do you have anybody?” Ali said he asked. “Everybody says no. So I took off on the streets.”

As Ali was out searching for Khan, even driving down the same neighborhood on Dunlap Street where Khan had been found hours earlier by police, he received a call in the early morning of Feb 27. Prince George’s County police said they had received the missing person’s information from Fairfax County police and asked Ali to send a photo of Khan, his family said.

A few hours later, his niece called saying that police had arrived at their front door and told them Khan was found dead.

Ali said the family would later find out Khan was alive for several hours at a hospital before he was pronounced dead.

“Only if we would have known that he was there. It would have brought us some peace,” Ali said. “While I was driving out there, I was just thinking, ‘God forbid something bad happens, God just show me where he is.’ ”

According to an initial investigation, police said, Khan picked up the teen accused of killing him in D.C. as a ride-hail fare and ended in Prince George’s County. The teen admitted to shooting Khan during a carjacking, Prince George’s police Chief Malik Aziz said during a news conference Wednesday. Two other teens were found alongside the 17-year-old in Khan’s stolen car days after the killing, police said. Police said they are still investigating whether the 17-year-old acted alone.

Khan’s killing comes as the Washington region has seen a spike in carjackings involving juveniles. Prince George’s County has had 102 carjackings as of Thursday night with 34 arrests made and 24 of them involving juveniles, according to data from the department.

At the news conference Wednesday, Saba Rauf, Khan’s widow, gave a tearful plea, “I don’t want anything [of] that kind [to] happen to anybody else.”

Ali said that getting justice is “a very long way from here.” They started a fundraising campaign to help support his wife and daughter.

“Once somebody dies . . . you get the person, you punish him whatever, but his family starts from here now,” Ali said. “Their life starts again . . . they have to make the effort to try to get back to where they were.”

 

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