An argument over a delayed paycheck and cultural appropriation almost ended in murder. Sean Brown, an employee at USA Chicken and Biscuit in Manchester, New Hampshire, was shot by the owner’s son, Zabayullah Qahir. Brown is a Black man. Qahir is Arab.
On May 10, Brown, 48, went to retrieve his final paycheck. Qahir, 29, made Brown wait for a half-hour after he entered the restaurant and exited the establishment. Qahir eventually emerged and began shouting racial slurs at Brown.
Brown also called him a b**ch and mocked him for selling fried chicken.
“I exiled him from Black culture. I told him, ‘You’ll never be me — you’re banished from hip-hop,’” he said.
Brown is a native of the South Bronx and grew up in hip-hop culture, he said. The assault came soon after.
His ex-boss ended up shooting Brown three times, and the bullets hit major organs for which the ex-employee had to undergo two surgeries to repair. After a hospital stay, Brown was discharged, and doctors are optimistic that his wounds will heal with time and special care.
The trigger-happy employer told police he shot Brown in self-defense. However, witnesses claimed that Qahir threw the first punch, and when he missed, went back inside the restaurant and got his weapon. A Door Dash employee said he tried to stop Qahir from going outside with the gun, but the volatile man recklessly chose violence.
“Get out of my way,” Qahir told the delivery driver. He then went outside and shot the victim “without saying a word.”
Qahir was arrested at the police station and charged with three counts of first-degree assault. In an ironic twist, a Black man who shot Qahir in the buttocks two years ago is in jail and facing charges of attempted murder. Prosecutors said that Qahir’s charges might be upgraded.
In light of racial injustice in the criminal justice system, Brown, who wants his assailant charged with a hate crime or attempted murder, hopes for justice but is not necessarily optimistic.
The court has rejected Qahir’s claims of self-defense based on witness affidavits.