Khalid Jabara
DA: System failed family of slain Arab-American
02:12 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Family had filed for a protective order

Vernon Majors was out on bond for allegedly running over victim's mother

Tulsa, Oklahoma CNN  — 

For years, the Jabara family says, their Tulsa neighbor terrorized them.

He called them names – “dirty Arabs,” “filthy Lebanese,” they said.

He hurled racial epithets at those who came to work on their lawns, they alleged.

He ran Haifa Jabara over with his car and went to court for it.

And it all came to a head last week when the man, Stanley Vernon Majors, walked up to the front steps of the family home and shot and killed Khalid Jabara, police said.

“The frustration that we continue to see anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, xenophobic rhetoric and hate speech has unfortunately led up to a tragedy like this,” it said.

Tense times

These are tense times for Muslim-Americans – and those perceived to be Muslims. (The Jabaras are Christians of Lebanese descent.)

Khalid Jabara

Ever since the Paris attacks, carried out by extremists hiding behind religion, xenophobic bile has poured out. Then came San Bernardino, and after it anti-Muslim rhetoric from the Trump campaign, and a steady stream of hateful incidents came rolling in.

What makes the Jabara case stand out is authorities had several opportunities to intervene, but appeared to have bungled, the family believes.

“This is troubling at any time, but profoundly disturbing given the current climate of our country and the increase nationally in cases of hate crimes,” the family said.

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Deep roots in Tulsa

Khalid Jabara’s parents immigrated to the United States in the early 1980s from Lebanon.

They settled in Tulsa and raised three children. One brother became a lawyer, the sister works in marketing, and Khalid Jabara ran the family catering business with his mother.

Khalid Jabara was the superstar of the family, said his younger brother, Rami Jabara.

He excelled at everything: he could sing, he was athletic, he was good at basketball and computers, you name it, the brother said.

“I know my brother had not an ounce of anger. He was giving, generous. He’d give away his last couple bucks to anybody. He just wanted to be around family,” he said.

The Jabara family moved into their current home 12 years ago. A few years later, Stanley Majors moved into the house next door.

Long history of complaints

The harassment and intimidation began almost immediately, they say.

Stanley Vernon Majors

“He’d call us names all the time. ‘You dirty Arabs, get out of here,’” the mother, Haifa Jabara, told CNN.

“I had a guy who mowed our lawn, he’s black. He’d scream, ‘You N-word, get out of here.”

Neighbors lodged several complaints with police against Majors over his behavior.

And in 2013, the family filed a protective order, which forbade Majors from having any contact with the Jabaras.

It didn’t make a difference.

“Every time I came outside at night, he’d scream and yell at me. Scared me to death,” Jabara said.

Attack while awaiting trial

In 2015, Haifa Jabara says she was taking a walk in the neighborhood when Majors ran her over with his car.

“He came from the back and hit me hard,” she said. “I fell on the floor, bloody, bleeding from my head. A lady was passing by, called 911 and rescued me,” she said.

She spent weeks in the hospital with a broken shoulder, collapsed lung and fractured ribs, among other injuries.

Police charged Majors with felony assault. Initially, he was held in custody without bond. But three months ago, against the district attorney’s wishes, a judge allowed his release until his trial in March 2017.

“We can’t help but question, could things have ended differently?” said Jenna Jabara, the victim’s sister-in-law.

“If police had made contact with him, stuck around a little longer, if he hadn’t been out on bond, if there had been more questions before bond.”

‘How many red flags does it take?’

The Jabaras said they lived in fear, and considered moving, but the parents are not that mobile.

“My dad is on a feeding tube and has a walker, it’s not like we can just pick up and move,” Rami Jabara said.

Instead, the family let the district attorney know about their fears,

“We did constantly communicate with the DA. After he was released, I told them, ‘This is not gonna be good. I fear that something might happen,’” he said. “How many red flags does it take?”

Freed on bond

Despite protests, Majors was freed.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said Majors was an “obvious public safety risk and we made that argument to the court.”

“The family did everything they were supposed to do and the system failed them,” he said.

The family can’t understand why a judge would release him without conditions – without an ankle monitor, for instance.

“We ca’nt help but question, could things have ended differently?” Jenna Jabara said.

Majors’ lawyer, Marvin Lizama, said the man had been in good spirits since his release.

“I don’t know what happened last week that could have changed that,” he told CNN.

“Never did I expect Mr. Majors to do something like this. This was unexpected and unfortunate.”

The night of the slaying

The family feared the harassment would just escalate.

On Friday, the night of his slaying, Khalid Jabara called to tell his mother not to come home because Majors had a gun.

Officers arrived on scene but they couldn’t go inside Major’s home to check, so they left, said police spokeswoman Ashley Leland.

About 10 minutes later, Khalid Jabara was shot while he was on the phone with his mother.

“She heard what no one should ever have to hear,” Abou-Chedid said.

Khalid Jabara died at the hospital.

After the shooting, officers found Majors hiding behind a tree at a library.

He has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder. And this time, he’s being held without bail.

CNN’s Sara Ganim and Jason Morris contributed to this report.