As police pressed their hunt for the killers of a beloved Feltonville clothing-store owner, his fellow African Muslims began a fund drive to ship his body back to his native Mali and spent yesterday remembering his struggle to make a life for his family.
Two men shot Amissi Ndikumasabo, 41, in the head Tuesday afternoon. His wife, Bintou Soumare, 45, wounded by a bullet to her left temple, remained in critical condition at Temple University Hospital. The couple has two children.
Outside the couple's Urban Wear shop at Wyoming Avenue and Mascher Streets, a makeshift memorial of flowers, candles and stuffed animals continued to grow.
Meanwhile, mourners gathered at the Masjid Tawbah mosque in nearby Frankford, crowding the two-story structure to its limits. Yesterday was the second day of a three-day mourning period, with hundreds of African Muslims from as far as New York congregating to pay respects and make contributions for Ndikumasabo's return to Mali, where his mother still lives.
Mosque treasurer Lassana Nianghane was confident that congregants would reach their goal of $12,000 for transportation expenses by the end of the mourning period.
Described as a spiritual man, Ndikumasabo went to the mosque every morning at 4:30 to recite prayers on behalf of the congregation as a muezzin, or crier, and as a member of the board of directors, Nianghane said.
"Everybody liked him," said Ibrahim Fade, a friend of Ndikumasabo's who emigrated from Senegal. He said he could not understand why anyone would harm Ndikumasabo.
"They just worked hard. . . . Some customers came and gave him a hard time, but he never got mad. He let them go. Sometimes if he didn't trust you, he didn't want to open the door," Fade said.
At C&L Cleaners & Tailors, two doors down from Urban Wear, co-owner Helen Lem described Ndikumasabo as "a good man." Lem, like most business owners in the neighborhood, keeps her doors locked, letting in only customers who wave their pink receipt slips in the window.
Aboubacar Toure, 42, another store owner and a friend of Ndikumasabo's for more than 10 years, said the killing shocked him. He said Ndikumasabo sometimes had kept his store open until 9 p.m. on weekends.
"I kept telling him it's so dangerous in the city right now, you can't do that," Toure said. "Now, everything's finished."
Surveillance video from cameras at several area businesses captured images of the men thought to be the gunmen, Homicide Capt. James Clark said.
After the robbery, the men dumped several items in the trash near the store.
Police said they had recovered $12 they believe was taken during the robbery, new white T-shirts stolen from the store, discarded clothing worn by the robbers, and a small-caliber handgun that may have been the murder weapon.