Just shy of one week since the brutal killing of two Germantown teenagers, Montgomery County Police are still pleading with the public to come forward with any and all information which might give detectives a way to close this case.
At a press conference at Public Safety Headquarters on Monday morning, June 12, Captain Darren Francke, the head of MCPD Major Crimes Division, gave an update on the status of the investigation. He also asked the public, specifically young people, to contact investigators with any information pertaining to the murder of 17-year-old Shadi Najjar and 18-year-old Artem Ziberov last Monday night June 5.
“These gentlemen were high school students, and what we do know is that high school youths are connected, they talk to each other,” said Francke. “Our hope is that someone knows something. Maybe they are a little afraid right now. Maybe they are not quite sure what to do. Our message is very simple: Come to us. Let us help you. Give us the information we need to find the people responsible for this. This was a heinous crime, a brazen crime and we need the public’s help, just like all of our cases. Understand how brazen this case is, and how violent. They can take their chances that they know something and remain silent, or they can come speak to us and do the right thing, and speak to us and let us take these people off the street.”
“We have an excellent criminal justice system with resources,” said Francke. “We treat all of our tipsters very, very well because they are so crucial to our cases; come talk to us. We can offer resources. We can offer help. We will do whatever we can to protect them in order to close this case.”
Najjar and Ziberov were shot and killed at about 10:45 pm while sitting in Najjar’s Honda Civic on Gallery Court, a quiet cul-de-sac populated by single-family homes in Montgomery Village. The engine of the Honda was still running, and Najjar was sitting behind the wheel. According to news reports, one of the victims was found clutching a $20 bill.
Security video from a house close to the shooting recorded more than 22 rounds being fired in very quick succession, and the sound of a car driving away. While police have not confirmed this information, media reports state unnamed sources say there was two or more gunman firing shots at the Germantown teens as they sat in the car.
Francke said his detectives worked all through last week, and all through the weekend, and have spoken to more than 100 people regarding this case. “We have a lot of information that we are working through; we have an extensive crime scene, and there is a lot of analysis that needs to go on with the evidence that we’ve collected there. Also, as we do what we call victimology, as we look at our two victims we gather more information, we talk to friends and family, and that gives us more leads and information that we can follow up on. There is a lot of work going on by not only the Major Crimes Division but every division within this department to figure out what occurred and why those two men were gunned down,” Francke told reporters.
He would not say if the teens were targeted or if the MCPD has come to the conclusion that this was a random event. “If you heard the audio clip, and you’ve seen the little information that we’ve been able to share with you. Certainly, this was a very personal act, which is not to say that they (the victims and the killer or killers) knew each other. Otherwise, I would tell you that it is not random.”
However, he said that history had shown Montgomery County detectives that homicide cases are generally not random events. “Our experience in all of these cases is that there is a connection. In Montgomery County, we have a history of homicides where there is a connection between the suspect and the victim. We are actively searching for that connection so that we can arrest the people responsible for this homicide.”
Police are urging anyone in the community with information to contact the Major Crimes Division at 240.773.5070. Crime Solvers of Montgomery County is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information that leads to the arrest of the suspect(s). Tipsters can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Photos by Germantown Pulse.