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In Tony

What if you had one chance to talk to Tariq what would you say?

Tariq, there are no words to express how sorry I am for taking your life and putting your family through so much pain. I bear the responsibility for what happened that night on January 21 1995 not just for murdering you but for the role I played leading up to my attempting to rob you and ultimately shooting and killing you. I could have prevented this senseless tragedy in a number of ways: by speaking out against it when the idea was first introduced in that small apartment to rob a pizza man or refusing to return to the apartment with the bogus address that you would be sent to. I could have said no to the gun that was handed to me as I watched you from across the street unable to find an address that I knew didn’t exist. But I did none of these because my need to be accepted by my peers meant more to me, at that time, then your wellbeing or your life.

It’s sad as I look back on it, how I fought to hide my insecurities from the world instead of speaking to someone about them, getting help for them. I filtered my life through those insecurities and made decisions based on the distorted perception they provided me and one of those decisions ended your life, shattered the lives of all those that loved you and traumatized the community.

I can’t comprehend what you must have felt that night I ambushed you, turning around to see me standing there with a loaded gun pointing at you demanding the pizza that you had already returned to the back of the car of your car. You were courageous in that moment refusing to allow yourself to be robbed and for standing for what was right.

I often wonder if I would have your strength now? I know that I didn’t have it then. I was scared and weak inside trying to hide those feelings and others behind the mask that being a part of a gang provided me and the gun that I pointed at you. I wish I had been stronger then instead I acted out of my cowardness when I murdered you. I robbed you of the life you should have had, the love that you shared, the unlimited potential that you possess and I am extremely sorry for that. I don’t want to insult you by saying that I have the capacity to fully understand the impact on your family that your murder has had. I know that it has sent a ripple effect of confusion, pain and loss through their lives and it shames me now to know that I am responsible for not just your murder but the effect that your murder has had on so many others.

Your father Azim forgave me for killing you after I was arrested. He even came to visit me in prison 3 years after your death. The compassion that he has shown me is humbling. I also communicate with Tasreen often, she has opened her life up to me and I feel so blessed to know her. Through them I have learned more about you and through you then I’ve learned about myself.

You may not know this but I’ve begun to appreciate how your death has impacted so many young lives in a positive way. Through the foundation, named in your honor, Azim and my grandfather share our story to countless numbers of people providing a message of empathy, nonviolence, and forgiveness which continues to resonate for so many even after all these years.

I greatly admire the work that they are doing with the foundation. It is an honor for me to be able to be a part of the good work that is being done in your name. I know that I can never do enough to make right what I’ve done. Murdering you was a decision I would take back if I could, I would give you back to your family if I had that power. I am striving, every day, to be a better person then I was yesterday. Over the years I’ve resolved the insecurities that I filtered my life through. I hope to be of service to others in a positive way now. I will spend my life making amends for taking your life and those I have hurt along this journey, I will do it all in your name Tariq.