Friends and relatives of Salahuddin Jitmoud said Tuesday that they are struggling with pain and shock over his stabbing death last weekend in Lexington.
Jitmoud, 22, was found dead about 10:45 p.m. Sunday in a breezeway at Walnut Hill Apartments on Trent Circle. He worked for Pizza Hut and was making deliveries when he was killed, according to Lexington police.
His death closely followed that of University of Kentucky student Jonathan Krueger, also 22, who died early Friday in a shooting on East Maxwell Street.
"Salahuddin's death is a very big story in the Muslim community here," said Ihsan Bagby, a trustee at Majid Bilal Ibn Rabah, a mosque on Russell Cave Road, where Jitmoud attended services.
"The death of the UK student was a shock in the campus community and the general Lexington community, and this is the same type of effect in the Muslim community. Total shock," said Bagby, who teaches Arabic and Islamic studies at UK.
Lexington police said Tuesday that no arrests had been made in the stabbing, and the investigation was continuing. They have offered few details about the slaying.
Jitmoud was born in Kansas City, Mo., but had lived in Lexington since 2007. His parents, Abdul-Munim Sombat and Mary Kolocotronis Jitmoud, moved here when his father was named principal of Lexington Universal Academy, an Islamic school on Nicholasville Road. "The family is very prominent," Bagby said.
Salahuddin Jitmoud was too old to be a student at the academy where his father worked. He attended Tates Creek High School. When his father moved back to Missouri last year to work at a Muslim school there, Salahuddin remained in Lexington, where he pursued interests in film and art.
He studied with Miles Meehan, who teaches at Stage Right Acting in Lexington, and they became friends. They had talked about doing a film project together, Meehan said Tuesday.
"He was really passionate about art in general, but particularly about film," Meehan said. "He was also really into the music scene, and he would talk with me a lot about music that he was writing. He'd post things on his Facebook page that he had done."
Meehan said he thought Jitmoud intended to pursue some type of career in film or music. He said Jitmoud was "always trying to find another odd job" to support his work in art.
"It's so sad to think of him working all these little jobs to be able to do his art, and then he loses his life," Meehan said. "He was just a creator; he wanted to tell good stories. Any death to me is extremely unfortunate. But it seems especially so for someone who was trying to create."
Meehan described Jitmoud as a mild-mannered, unassuming young man who "would never hurt a fly."
"This was such a violent act against him. ... It's difficult to think about something like this happening to someone who was so non-confrontational."
Hope Omran, office manager at Lexington Universal School, remembered Jitmoud as "very quiet, very respectful, a sweet young man."
"It's just senseless," Omran said. "A terrible loss to our community as a whole."
Jitmoud was buried Monday afternoon at Bluegrass Memorial Gardens, in keeping with Muslim tradition that burial should follow soon after death.
Bagby contended Tuesday that Jitmoud's death, like that of Jonathan Krueger, raised questions about Lexington: "Why the violence? Why would someone do such terrible things?"
Bagby also said that some Muslim residents have asked whether Jitmoud's death was a hate crime.
"Many people in our community are very anxious about that," he said.
Lexington police spokesman Sherelle Roberts declined Tuesday to discuss whether the killing might be a hate crime, saying it was too early in the investigation to speculate.
Of the many posts on his Facebook page, Jitmoud shared the following just a year ago: "The art of truly living is learning how to die."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect name of Salahuddin Jitmoud's mother.