Family of slain Afghan American man in Indiana calls for hate-crime probe

Mustafa Ayoubi’s killer allegedly yelled him to “Go back to your country,” a chilling reminder of murder of Srinivas Kuchibotla.

In a chilling reminder of the hate crime that claimed the life of Indian software engineer Srinivas Kuchibotla in 2017, a young Afghan American man was shot in Indiana after being told “Go back to your country.”

Mustafa Ayoubi, 32, was shot dead in Indianapolis last month by Dustin Passerelli, a resident of Plainfield, an Indianapolis suburb. The shooter allegedly yelled, “Go back to your country,” bringing back the memories of the killing of Kuchibotla, in Olathe, Kansas, by a white supremacist in February 2017.

Ayoubi, an Afghan American and resident of Carmel, IN, was allegedly shot by Dustin Passerelli. His family is now pressing for hate crime charge, even though Indiana remains one of the only five states in the United States that does not have a hate crime law.

The incident happened on the night of February 16, when Passerelli and Ayoubi got involved in a road rage incident. Passerelli, who is held in police custody, told the cops that on the ill-fated night, a car (driven by Ayoubi) aggressively drove behind him. He then followed the car into an apartment complex where Ayoubi stopped to meet his friends.

While Passerelli claimed that he followed Ayoubi because he wanted to get his insurance information, according to eye-witnesses, Passerelli made several religious and ethnic remarks at Ayoubi, used cuss words and also said: “Go back to your country.” As per witnesses, Paserelli then shot Ayoubi using a gun multiple times. Before running off Paserelli shot Ayoubi twice on the back. An unarmed Ayoubi was pronounced dead on the scene.

Passerelli told the police the Ayoubi made an anti-semitic remark and also punched his fist on Paserelli’s car window. All of Ayoubi’s friends, who witnessed the incident, maintain that Ayoubi was killed in a hate crime.

Following his initial hearing, this past Friday, Passarelli remains jailed without a bond. An autopsy shows that Ayoubi was shot once on the front and seven times in the back.

Ayoubi’s sister, Zahara Ayoubi, is now appealing that her brothers’ death should be investigated as hate crime. She has also called upon Indiana to pass its own hate crime law. Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming are the other states, besides Indiana, that don’t have hate crime laws.

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