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Slain gas station clerk remembered at vigil in Anne Arundel

"One voice! One community!" they chanted. And later, "Enough is enough!"

As rush hour traffic passed by, dozens of people joined hands at a gas station near Fort Meade on Monday to remember a man killed this month while trying to earn a living.

Rajinder Kumar, 49, was fatally shot Aug. 7 during his overnight shift at the Exxon station at Ridge Road and Route 175 in Hanover. A man came into the store, shot the clerk and took an undetermined sum of money, according to police.

Kumar, who colleagues said sent his earnings to his wife and children in India, was Muslim; last week the Anne Arundel County Muslim Council chipped in money with the FBI and Metro Crime Stoppers to offer an overall $27,000 reward in the case. No arrests have been made in the killing.

On Monday, religious leaders spoke, calling for unity as police continue the investigation.

"When incidents like this happen, the whole community is affected," said organizer Larry Lee Thomas, pastor of the Empowering Believers Church of the Apostolic Faith in Glen Burnie and religious chairman of the Anne Arundel County NAACP.

The Rev. Herb Watson of nearby St. Mark's United Methodist Church led the group in prayer, saying, "We are not of the same color. We are of different cultures, but you are the same creator God. … Unite us in spite of our differences."

Zainab Chaudry, outreach manager for the Maryland office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he appreciated the show of solidarity.

"It's beautiful to see the diversity reflected in this crowd," she said. "This is the beauty of America."

Kumar was an immigrant from the Punjab state who had worked at the Exxon station for about a year, according to Naveel Malik, owner of the station. Malik and the Muslim council have worked to raise money to send Kumar's body to India for burial. Many donations have come from customers, and Malik said Monday that the expenses had been covered.

He said he appreciated the show of community support but acknowledged the killing has been tough on his staff. "We're taking this day by day," he said.

Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief Pam Davis urged those at the vigil to spread information about the case in hopes of generating leads. Anyone with tips may call 410-222-8610.

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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