Sterling Double Homicide Case Sent to Grand Jury

A 35-year-old man from Alexandria will be indicted on two counts of first degree murder after a preliminary hearing Wednesday that gave the public its first look into what first responders found when they responded to reports of an active shooter at a hookah bar in Sterling in the early morning hours of Monday, May 14.

Hassan M. Gailani is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the shooting deaths of Ahmed S. Osman, 35, of Sterling and Murtada A. Marof, 40, of Herndon at Pharaoh Café. Gailani’s statements after his arrest suggest he may not have intended to kill one of the people he is accused of murdering.

In a press release announcing the arrest, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said Gailani was apprehended in his vehicle as he tried to leave the area. But sheriff’s deputies in the hearing Wednesday testified that Gailani was outside of his vehicle and already had his hands up when the hookah lounge’s manager pointed him out to them outside of the business.

Deputy Jordan Leverich, the first on the scene, described finding two people inside laying in a pool of blood “almost on top of each other.” One of them, apparently Osman, was already dead; the other, Marof, was “moaning and rolling around on the ground.”

After going back outside to help arrest Gailani—who deputies said was cooperative—Leverich returned to try to give Marof first aid. He said it about 20 minutes passed between when he arrived and when emergency medical providers got there.

Firefighter paramedic Tyler Moxley testified that when he arrived, he immediately went to help Marof, made more difficult because Marof, covered in sweat, was “moving rapidly” and ripped off a blood pressure cuff. First responders moved him to an ambulance, but about a minute later, Marof went limp and stopped breathing. Moxley said he never saw him move again.

The second on the scene, Deputy Justin Denton, said when he arrived, the hookah lounge’s manager—who he said is familiar to Loudoun deputies—pointed out Gailani, who already had his hands up. Denton and Deputy Gerald Presson arrested Gailani and searched him, finding only a wallet.

Presson was wearing a body camera. Much of the audio from that recording is missing or unintelligible, but it also captures the first time police questioned Gailani, in the back of Presson’s cruiser after the arrest. In that video, Gailani appears to admit being the shooter, and tells deputies the gun is in the car.

Investigators later found a Kel-Tec 9mm pistol in a rented Kia Soul that detective Casey Johnson said was parked about a half mile away. The key to the Kia was found inside a silver Toyota Camry near the hookah lounge apparently belonging to Gailani. Also in the Kia was a green gym bag  containing a plastic gun box and an empty box of ammunition.

Detective Mark Bush testified he took Gailani before the magistrate at the county jail. There, he said, Gailani asked about who was the second person who was shot—Marof—and how he was, and his eyes welled up with tears when he was told Marof was dead. He later asked how he could be charged with first degree murder if he didn’t mean to kill one person.

Public defenders asked the court to strike one charge of first-degree murder, arguing Gailani’s actions show he did not mean to kill Marof. The judge agreed with the prosecution’s argument of “transferred intent,” a legal doctrine that holds that when a person intending to harm one person accidentally harms another, the attacking person is also responsible for unintended victim.

Gailani is scheduled to be indicted before a grand jury on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

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