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By Christian Burkin
Record Staff Writer
April 29, 2009 6:00 AM
STOCKTON – The man who was shot and killed by an armored truck guard Monday was not armed and wasn’t carrying anything that could have been mistaken for a weapon, the Stockton Police Department said Tuesday.
Asif Khan Ajmal, 25, had an account at the bank he allegedly was trying to rob when he was shot, relatives said during a large gathering at his north Stockton home.
Dozens of pairs of shoes piled up on the porch of the two-story stucco home, and cars lined the street. More visitors arrived every few minutes to pay their respects to his family, which rejected as absurd the accusation that Ajmal – described as sweet, gentle and soft-spoken – was robbing the bank when he was shot.
“He’s never, ever hurt anybody. He doesn’t even drink,” said Ajmal’s older brother, Abid Ajmal.
The Police Department is still investigating the shooting and so released few details Tuesday, but a spokesman said Asif Ajmal demanded money twice from employees of Bank of the West, 4932 N. Pacific Ave., before approaching the guard. The spokesman, Officer Pete Smith, said Ajmal’s behavior was described by witnesses as “erratic.”
In the Police Department’s account, Ajmal first demanded money from two female bank employees moving a cart, then did the same with a teller. Ajmal was not trying to hide anything, Smith said.
Ajmal then approached the guard, Jose Zuniga, an employee of Montreal-based Garda Global, and demanded money from him. Smith said he could not describe the manner of the demand or guess at Ajmal’s intent.
Smith said Zuniga told Ajmal to stay away from him. When Ajmal came closer, Smith said, Zuniga fired, hitting Ajmal, who died at St. Joseph’s Medical Center.
Smith said Ajmal was not armed, but one of his hands was concealed. Zuniga claimed to be afraid Ajmal intended to harm him, Smith said.
“I don’t know whether there was any physical contact,” Smith said.
Once the Police Department has concluded its investigation into the shooting, it will report its findings to the San Joaquin County district attorney, who will decide whether to charge Zuniga.
On the front lawn of Ajmal’s home, his sister-in-law, Amra Shafqat, said through deep sobs that she had known him since he was 15.
“He was a very sweet person,” she said.
His cousin, Farrah Amin, said Ajmal was taking medication for depression.
“He wasn’t dangerous,” she said. “He was very soft-spoken.”
A neighbor said Ajmal got along famously with his sons, who would often visit his home to play video games. Ajmal, who was married about a year ago in Pakistan, was expecting a child in about six months.
His wife was waiting in the car outside the bank when he was shot. Police questioned her briefly and released her when it was clear to them she had no idea what was going on inside the bank.
Abid Ajmal doubted there was any scenario in which his brother could have been trying to rob anyone. Just a few minutes before Asif Ajmal went to the bank, he had called his mother to invite her to lunch, Abid Ajmal said.
Asif Ajmal, like any young man, was trying to figure out his place in the world, Abid Ajmal said. He had no material needs that weren’t provided for by his prosperous family, but he wasn’t a wastrel, either.
“He put pressure on himself, but he had everything taken care of,” Abid Ajmal said.
Asif Ajmal’s death was felt deeply by the local Pakistani community, Abid Ajmal said.
“Our community has taken a very bad rap, and you can overcome those indifferences,” he said. “But this, you can’t.”
Contact reporter Christian Burkin at (209) 546-8279 or firstname.lastname@example.org