Orthodox dentist shot dead in California a week after celebrating his birthday

Recent graduate Dr Benjamin Harouni was killed while Mohammed Abdulkareem, 29, was arrested by police


Dr Benjamin Harouni (Photo: Instagram)

An orthodox dentist was shot dead at his clinic in southern California on Friday a week after celebrating his birthday.

Police named Benjamin Harouni as the victim and the motives for the attack remains unclear.

Dr Harouni, a recent dental graduate and Persian Jew, was allegedly killed by a disgruntled former patient at the practice he ran with his father in the San Diego area before Shabbat.

A week earlier, the Smile Plus Dentistry practice in California had posted on Instagram wishing the young dentist a happy birthday.

“Becoming a dentist has been Dr. Harouni’s lifelong passion and he takes pride in providing all of his patients with honest and quality dental care,” it said.

The shooter, Mohammed Abdulkareem, 29, thought to be a former client of the dentist, is in police custody. No further details of the arrest have been released.

The attack, in which two others were injured, took place at a dental practice in El Cajon, northeast of San Diego.

According to the Daily Mail: “The office’s receptionist Yareli Carrillo, 28, was shot in the legs but is in stable condition and expected to survive,” while "a man in his 40s who has not been named was also injured but expected to survive.”

Local police issued a statement on X/Twitter: “On February 29, 2024, at approximately 4:14 PM, the El Cajon Police Department received reports of gunshots inside of a dental office located at 480 N. Magnolia Ave, in the city of El Cajon.

"The first officers were on scene at approximately 4:16 PM, and quickly located three gunshot victims: two adult males and one adult female. Despite lifesaving efforts by responding officers, one of the males succumbed to his injuries at the scene. The two other victims were transported to the hospital in serious but stable condition.”

The department added: “The suspect, identified as 29-year-old El Cajon resident Mohammed Abdulkareem, was reported to have fled the shooting in a white U-Haul rental pickup truck.

“Investigations also revealed that Abdulkareem was a former patient of the dental office. While the exact motive behind the shooting remains under investigation, it is believed that Abdulkareem was a disgruntled former customer.”

According to the US antisemitism watchdog the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there was “no indication of the murder being motivated by antisemitism.”

The group said: “ADL’s Center on Extremism has also not identified any extremist-or-hate-related motivation behind the shootings at this point. We will update the community as we learn more.”

The ADL also shared “deepest sympathy” for the victims family and “of the other victims who were shot.”

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