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Detectives Believe Slain Northwest Students Knew Their Killers

As students at Northwest High School were finishing up the last day of classes for the school year on Friday and preparing for a candlelight vigil at school to remember their classmates who were brutally gunned down 11 days ago Montgomery County Police investigators held a press conference to say that the two teens knew their killers and were asking anyone with information to come forward.

Captain Darren Francke, head of the Major Crimes Division of Montgomery County Police told reporters at Public Safety Headquarters that investigators now believe the shooting deaths of Shadi Najjar and Artem Ziberov was not a random act and the Northwest seniors were shot and killed by at least two people.

Capt. Francke said that his unit and the MCPD are aware of how much this incident has upset the community. “We know that [the community] has been very upset by this event. And they should be. This should not happen in Montgomery County. Our experience and what we’ve learned from the crime scene shows us that this was not a random event. We do not believe that this was a random event. We believe that the suspects and the victims knew each other. More importantly, we believe that there are people out there who have not come forward yet and given us information that they know about this case. It may be something small; it may be something as big as they witnessed something. We need them to come forward.”

The two students, 18-year-old Najjar and 17-year-old Ziberov, were shot and killed at about 10:45 pm on Monday, June 5 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.

Francke said that the reward for anyone coming forward with information which helps police solve this double murder will be doubled to $20,000. “The family of Mr. Najjar is working on increasing the reward for anyone coming forward with information in the case. Right now it is at $10,000, by the end of the day we hope it will be up to $20,000,” said Francke.

“Imagine if this happened to your friend, to your loved one, to your family member. We can’t imagine what someone did to deserve this fate. We want to appeal to those out there that have information and talk to the Montgomery County Police. Do the safe thing and talk to the Montgomery County Police,” said Francke.

When asked by Germantown Pulse —after the press conference ended — if he had a specific message for students at Northwest High School Francke said, “Don’t believe what you see in the movies and the media about giving police information. Don’t believe what hear in music and music videos about snitching. Come to us with information. Montgomery County has a great track record of working with witnesses or all ages in keeping them safe. If you know something, you have to do the right thing and come forward.