When he called 911 about the unfamiliar car parked in his driveway, Terry Turner had already shot the driver.
The Texas man told an operator that he had run for his handgun after spotting the Audi and chased the car as the driver reversed into the street, according to a Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office affidavit. Then he opened fire, striking 31-year-old Adil Dghoughi in the head.
“I just killed a guy,” Mr Turner told the 911 operator, according to the affidavit.
The 65-year-old man was arrested and accused of murder Friday, 11 days after the 3am shooting on 11 October in Martindale, a small city about 40 miles from Austin. The arrest came amid growing demands for answers about what happened to Dghoughi, a Moroccan immigrant with a master’s degree in financial analysis from Johnson & Wales University.
Before Mr Turner was taken into custody, authorities released few details on the shooting. Mr Dghoughi’s loved ones had repeatedly pressed for an arrest, giving interviews about the case and hosting a vigil alongside the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
“He was not of any threat to this person,” his girlfriend Sarah Todd told The Washington Post. “And whatever is twisted in this man’s mind, for some reason he thought that he could do this. And it’s not okay. It’s just not okay.”
Mr Turner was released from custody after posting bond the day of his arrest, records show, and a grand jury will decide whether to indict him. His attorney, Larry Dean Bloomquist, said in an email Monday that he understood the public’s interest in the case. But he requested patience with the investigation because “it takes time to do these things right.”
“I would remind the public that Mr Turner is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” he added. “We will not try the case in the press. Mr Turner and his family are saddened that Mr Dghoughi has died and understand his family’s grief.”
Mr Dghoughi spent the weekend before his death with Ms Todd, his girlfriend of a year and a half. Through tears, she recalled dancing to oldies music in the kitchen with him while making breakfast on Sunday 10 October. Later, the two made the 45-minute drive from her home in Maxwell to San Antonio for a barbecue at her cousin’s house.
They planned to stay the night, but he decided to leave about 12:30am, taking her Audi. That wasn’t unusual, Ms Todd said: “Sometimes if he couldn’t sleep, he would just drive around and listen to music and just kind of decompress.”
Mr Dghoughi spent a couple of hours at Ms Todd’s place, eventually winding up in the driveway of Mr Turner’s red-brick house about a mile away, in the 100 block of Tina’s Trail. It’s not clear what led him there - his girlfriend says he may have been lost and trying to get his bearings.
Mr Turner saw the car in the driveway, its headlights off, after waking up to use the bathroom, the affidavit says.
“The suspect said that he ran back to his bedroom, collected his handgun from the bedside nightstand, and then ran back outside, at which time the headlights of the vehicle illuminated,” it continues. “The suspect said that the vehicle began to rapidly accelerate in reverse, where the suspect chased after it.”
Mr Turner said he hit the driver’s-side door twice with his handgun, then fired it before going inside to call 911. During the call, he said Mr Dghoughi “tried to pull a gun on me.” But a search revealed no firearm, the affidavit says.
When deputies arrived, they found Mr Dghoughi seated in the car, with a gunshot wound in his head. Paramedics rushed him to a hospital, but it was too late.
“At end of the day, I don’t think this is about anything else other than a human being losing his life outside of a home of someone who decided they’re not going to call law enforcement, not going to call 911, and instead going to take matter into their own hands,” said Mehdi Cherkaoui, an attorney representing Mr Dghoughi’s family.
For days after the shooting, authorities remained tight-lipped about what had happened, saying in a news release that the shooter was “cooperative” and that the investigation was continuing. Those close to Mr Dghoughi struggled to get information and questioned why an arrest wasn’t made immediately.
Ms Todd said she and Mr Dghoughi’s brother, also a Texan, “thought that it was ludicrous that you can kill someone and not even be arrested.” They turned to CAIR, which called for an independent investigation into the shooting, raising the concern that the state’s “stand your ground” law could be shielding Mr Turner from being held accountable.
“The more I learned about what transpired, the more I was shocked and even angered,” said Faizan Syed, executive director of CAIR-Austin. “Here’s this young man who’s bright, is a financial analyst, and is really pursuing the American dream. For him to be shot and killed in this manner - almost as if he’s nothing - really hurt me, and we wanted to make sure we took action to raise awareness.”
A Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office spokesman did not immediately respond to a question about the timing of Mr Turner’s arrest. In a news release, the agency said it obtained an arrest warrant on Thursday and took Turner into custody the following day after his attorney said he would turn himself in. The release added: “Detectives have worked tirelessly on this case since the incident occurred.”
Mr Dghoughi’s loved ones are relieved that Mr Turner is facing charges, Mr Cherkaoui said. But they are devastated by the loss of the kind, accomplished young man, he said: “I don’t think anyone will be able to convey the feelings, the pain, the anguish.”
“He had such a bright future ahead of him and it’s devastating that it was taken from him,” Ms Todd said. “Taken from all of us.”
The Washington Post
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