Growing up in rural Nepal, Sagar Ghimire faced tragedy at an early age, his uncle said.
One day while the young boy was home alone with his mother, who had fallen ill from a heart condition, she took a turn for the worse.
With no vehicle to take her to the hospital, Ghimire hoisted her onto his back and started walking there. She wouldn’t survive the journey.
On Saturday, Ghimire, who would go on to attend high school in Kathmandu and earn a full scholarship to an American university to study computer science, was shot and killed outside his home in Woodlawn by a neighbor. His uncle said Ghimire will be remembered for his generous spirit.
Police said the shooter, 56-year-old Everton Brown, also killed two other residents of the Parkview Crossing town house complex before police shot him to death. Brown’s home and others nearby also were damaged by an explosion Saturday morning.
Kaptan Ghimire said his 24-year-old nephew, who graduated from Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, in April, was hoping to attend graduate school and had moved to the Woodlawn complex about a week ago to plan his future.
Sagar Ghimire had hoped to use his education to give back to the needy in Nepal, his uncle said. While he studied in the United States, Ghimire even arranged a fundraiser to help a Nepalese person who had contracted HIV pay for medical treatment.
“If somebody needed help, he liked to help right away,” said Kaptan Ghimire, 58. “He was a bright light for everybody, his whole country.”
Ghimire also helped other Nepali students apply to colleges in the United States, including his friend Rishav Das.
Das, 23, who lives in Kathmandu, said Ghimire volunteered to mentor others and to help with an education fair advertising different opportunities in the U.S.
Even after Ghimire got into Claflin, he followed up with his friend.
“He always frequently asked me: ‘[Has] your I-20 [student form] arrived? When is your visa interview?’” Das said.
Ghimire was bright and had a keen interest in Nepalese politics, Das said.
“He wanted to be the political leader as well. But then unfortunately, he couldn’t,” he said.
When Das saw the news of Ghimire’s death on Facebook, he felt goosebumps and his mind went blank. How could Ghimire, whom he had just congratulated for finishing college, be gone?
“He was one of the most brilliant guys. And he was very talented and very humble,” Das said. “It’s shocking.”
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Sagar Ghimire would often visit his uncle, who lives in Oakdale, California, during breaks from school. They enjoyed hiking and simply catching up over coffees at Starbucks, Kaptan Ghimire said in an interview with help from a translator.
When Ghimire visited in January, his uncle was delighted by how mature he’d become. He was happy, Kaptan Ghimire said, and cooked for his family.
On Monday, Kaptan Ghimire and two of his children flew to Baltimore in hopes of making funeral arrangements.
They’ll have help from a Baltimore County legislator with Nepalese roots. State Del. Harry Bhandari, a Baltimore County Democrat who was born in Nepal, heard about the shooting while he was attending a car caravan rally Saturday. He drove to the scene and later connected with Ghimire’s family.
He put them in touch with a local funeral home and wants to help some of Ghimire’s family members in Nepal come to the U.S. for the memorial, in spite of that country’s coronavirus lockdown procedures.
Bhandari said he’s helped a number of Nepalese Americans who have encountered similar crises, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, he helped arrange for the body of a young Nepalese woman to be transported to her home from California, for instance.
“This is a generous country. And whenever there is a trouble, I always find the person who can help no matter what,“ Bhandari said. “That gives me a power every day to move forward to help these victims.”