March 23, 2011

Montgomery police looking for connection between two Olney homicides in three days

Montgomery County police are investigating if there is a connection between the death of an 81-year-old man last week and the Monday shooting death man, 41, in Olney.

"It's very unusual to have a homicide in Olney and both victims were shot to death," police department spokeswoman Lucille Baur said. "They both have different ethnic backgrounds, but police do not know yet if there is a link based on that."

Police released no motives or information on who might be responsible for the homicides by late Tuesday afternoon. Baur said Tuesday morning the death of Nazir Ahmed, who was found in his home in the 19500 block of Olney Mill Road just after 5 p.m. Friday, is being investigated as a homicide.

Police detectives found evidence at the scene that indicated foul play was involved. Baur said she did not know whether police found evidence of forced entry into Ahmed's house. Yellow police tape was wrapped around a car and taped near the garage door of his house Tuesday.

The Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore reported that Ahmed died from a gunshot wound, police said. But police did not release how many times each victim was shot nor where on their bodies the bullets entered. Baur said ballistic evidence recovered from both crime scenes is being analyzed. Montgomery police identified the 41-year-old man who was shot Monday afternoon as Punyasara W. Palkumbure Gedara of the 3400 block of Bantry Way in Olney.

Gedara was walking home from his job at Subway in the Fair Hill Shopping Center when he was shot in the 3400 block of High Street, Baur said.

Bantry Way is near High Street, and both are about two blocks south of the busy Georgia Avenue and Md. 108 intersection. The sound of gunshots was reported around 4:15 p.m. Monday, Baur said. Officers found Gedara unresponsive. He was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Gedara's uncle, Cyril Rajapakse, was working on the family garden outside when he heard three to four gunshots Monday afternoon, he said. He saw neighbors running toward North High Street and followed them, and found his nephew lying on the ground toward the end of the road.

Gedara was conscious and trying to speak, but could not, Rajapakse said. Gedara and his wife immigrated to the U.S. from Sri Lanka six months ago and lived with Rajapakse's family, Rajapakse said. Gedara started working at Subway only a few weeks ago, he said.

"He's very innocent and calm. He never argued with anyone," Rajapakse said. "He was just a good person.

Ahmed was last seen around 6 p.m. March 16 at the Muslim Community Center, 15200 New Hampshire Ave. in Silver Spring, where he regularly attended prayer services. When he did not arrive at the Muslim Community Center on Thursday or Friday, the center's imam sent a member to Ahmed's home to check on his welfare. When the member arrived at Ahmed's house Friday, the front and garage doors were open and Ahmed's car was parked in the driveway, said Arshad Qureshi, chairman of the Muslim Community Center's board of trustees. He called Ahmed on his cell phone, and after failing to get an answer, he entered the house, where he saw Ahmed's bedroom door open and Ahmed lying on the floor unconscious, Qureshi said. He then called police. SOURCE: Gazette

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