Family mourns man shot dead outside hookah lounge

Ajmal Faroqi, known as "AJ," was shot and killed while celebrating his 40th birthday with friends, Now, friends and family are struggling to come to terms with their loss.

"it's a loss that we will never get over," said nephew Arsalan Azamey. "He was more than an uncle to us. He was a father figure. He was a brother. He was a best friend and he was one of our role models, a true hero."

Faroqi was sitting in his Mercedes, parked outside the Shista Nights Hookah Lounge on Mission Boulevard near Hayward, when he was confronted at 3 a.m. Sunday.

"There was a quick encounter there, where they fired into the vehicle, multiple times,
 said Alameda County sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly. "He was struck. We know he accelerated away, to get away."

Faroqi crashed into a light pole. Paramedics tried to save him, but he died at the scene.

Faroqi had spent the night with friends in San Francisco. Investigators are retracing his route to the hookah lounge and reviewing surveillance video. They say the attackers may have been after his all-black 2018 Mercedes S560 with tinted windows. 

"He was driving a very expensive, high-end Mercedes vehicle, which may have attracted attention in regards to him being a target for a robbery or a carjacking," Kelly said. "It truly is a case where AJ was an innocent victim in this.

Family members gathered in Brentwood to mourn. They described Faroqi as a devoted husband and father of two daughters, one of whom turns 9 this weekend. He was a gifted musician who once bought all the flowers from a struggling street vendor - then realized he had a dilemma.

"He looks around and goes, 'Oh what am I going to do with all these roses?' Azamey said, smiling. "He hands them out, one by one, to whoever he could. Just to put a smile on their face. That's the kind of guy my uncle was." 

Another nephew, Suliman Nawid, said, "There's crime everywhere and people do bad things, but for this to happen to somebody like this is just shocking to us, like we're all living a nightmare and  we're just trying to wake up any  moment and we're just in disbelief."

Azamey said the killers have "taken away an angel. And now, freedom has given him a set of wings but we're left with a hole but hopefully as a family we can bounce back."