ST. LOUIS – For most St. Louisans, the terrorist attack in New Zealand may feel far away. But for a member of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis in Manchester, the tragedy hit quite close to home.
While at a press conference Friday at the Islamic Foundation to condemn the deadly attack on two mosques, Faizan Shaik got a call from his mother letting him know his uncle, Ahmed Jahangir, was one of the shooting victims.
"Never in my life would I have thought this would happen to us," said Shaik.
Authorities said 49 people were murdered in the attack. Shaik said his uncle survived.
Police and medical personnel have been working to treat the victims and identify the dead. The total number of dead and injured remains unknown.
Some foreign news reports said Jahangir was shot in the chest.
Shaik said the last he heard, his uncle was in surgery and his condition was critical. He expects it may be weeks before his uncle recovers.
Jahangir, his wife, and their two children moved to New Zealand from India, Shaik said.
"He loves his family," said Shaik. "He loves to help out people. He loves his community of India. He loves New Zealand."
Shaik said after the shooting, he received support from all over, even before he and others knew his uncle was injured.
"I have Jewish friends and Christian friends who started calling and texting me," he said. "’How are you feeling?’ ‘How is your family?’ ‘How is your Muslim community there in St. Louis?’"
Shaik said he is grateful for his strong faith which helps him get through difficult times.
"As a Muslim, we have to be positive. It's one of our huge beliefs – to always remain positive, no matter whatever the circumstances," said Shaik.
Shaik said his family is working to get updates on his uncle's condition, and several relatives in India and Saudi Arabia are trying to get into New Zealand so they can be by his uncle's side.