Dearborn, Heights: A look back at 2015

Photo by Zeinab Najm. University of Michigan-Dearborn candlelight vigil attendees honor victims lost in terrorist attacks in Beirut, Paris and around the world Nov. 16 as Social Justice League member and UM-D senior Mohammed Alziyadi (right) tells a story.

Photo by Zeinab Najm. University of Michigan-Dearborn candlelight vigil attendees honor victims lost in terrorist attacks in Beirut, Paris and around the world Nov. 16 as Social Justice League member and UM-D senior Mohammed Alziyadi (right) tells a story.

Times-Herald Newspapers

Here’s a look back at the second half of 2015 and the news that shaped Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.


The Dearborn Heights Police Department settled a lawsuit with resident Malak Kazan on July 8 after she was forced to remove her hijab during a booking photo when she was arrested for driving with a suspended license. Kazan told the male police officers that she couldn’t remove her hijab because it would violate her religious beliefs. She also asked for a female officer but was told one couldn’t be provided for her and said that she wasn’t allowed to put her hijab back on while she was in police custody. The new policy no longer requires Muslim women to remove their hijab during the booking process and a female officer will be present to search and pat down a woman who wears the hijab in a separate room before taking the booking photo.

Dearborn Heights resident Ruth Smith, 77, created and delivered 36 hand quilted blankets to Beaumont Hospital-Dearborn’s neonatal intensive care unit on July 16. Each donated blanket is placed over a baby’s incubator and goes home with the baby after they leave the hospital.

The Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education selected attorney Fadwa Alawieh as its new board member on July 20. The move came after former Trustee Aimee Schoelles resigned on June 30 to accept a new job at Dana Holding Corp in Ohio. Alawieh earned the job over 18 other possible candidates.

Henry Ford College and Eastern Michigan University signed an agreement to establish a new university center on HFC’s main campus in Dearborn on July 29. The partnership allows HFC students to finish their associate’s degree at HFC and then complete their undergraduate degree from EMU all while staying at HFC’s campus.

WKQI-FM 95.5 “Mojo in the Morning” radio show hosts Mojo, Slim, Shannon and Spike made a stop at Shatila Bakery in Dearborn on its Mojo’s Town Tour on July 31 to host their morning show.


Dearborn Heights resident Hussein Kain, 19, designed Dearborn’s first Snapchat filter on Aug. 4.The social media application allows friends to send and receive photos and videos across the world. The geofilter feature is a fun way to share where users are through filter overlays on the screen.

Colin Johnson, 17, of Dearborn was driving a motorcycle near the area of Outer Drive and Larme Avenue just after 9 p.m. when the motorcycle stalled in the road and was hit by another vehicle. Johnson was then hit from behind by another vehicle in Allen Park where he then was taken to Beaumont Hospital-Dearborn and pronounced dead.

A video showing a Dearborn police officer playing basketball became an online hit earning over 16,000 retweets and 15,000 likes. The video, posted on multiple Twitter accounts on Aug. 16, shows the officer making a three-point shot on a basketball court at Hemlock Park with a Dearborn police vehicle parked in the background.

Haron Elmawri, 24, of Dearborn was sentenced to serve between 25 and 50 years in prison for the killing of his sister Asyh Elmawri. Aaron pleaded guilty but mentally ill to second-degree murder on Aug. 18. Haron, 24, was arrested in July 2014 for strangling and stabbing his 30-year-old sister multiple times at his house in the 7500 block of Bingham.

A Dearborn man lost his life in an apartment building fire Aug. 23 that left 12 others homeless. Firefighters arrived at 4:30 a.m. to the building in the 2800 block of Salina Street and extinguished the fire within 20 minutes. The cause of death was most likely smoke inhalation, Fire Chief Joe Murray said.

The city of Dearborn has agreed to pay Shalandra Jones of Detroit a $40,000 settlement after she said she was treated unfairly by Dearborn police Officer David Lacey because she had HIV. The settlement was reached on Aug. 28. The initial incident occurred in 2012 when Lacey pulled over the vehicle Jones was a passenger in because of a burned-out tail light. When Lacey approached the window, he smelled the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. Lacey then asked Jones and driver to exit the vehicle to conduct a search. While Lacey searched Jones’ purse he found additional medication which Jones said was for treating her HIV. Lacey then said Jones should have let him know about the HIV because he was searching her purse and coming in contact with her piercings.


Dearborn man, Ali Aljanabi, 18, died after the vehicle he was driving hit a female pedestrian followed by a metal pole near Greenfield Road and Paul Avenue on Sept. 11. The vehicle was traveling east on Paul when it struck a 15-year-old Detroit girl. The girl and passenger were taken to a local hospital to treat their injuries and Aljanabi was pronounced dead at the scene.

A Dearborn police officer’s random act of kindness went viral after it was shared on Facebook earning 7,256 shares and 186 likes in four days. Rees Williams, a project manager for Ford Motor Co. was eating at Capri Italian Bakery on Sept.11 when he observed a young man begging in front of the bakery. While inside, Williams saw police officer Raed Essa, of Dearborn speaking to the young man and then entering the bakery to purchase him a meal.

Dearborn Public Schools Associate Supt. Gail Shenkman retired Sept.14 after working 27 years for the district. She moved to San Diego, Calif., and accepted a position as assistant director of California Advancement Via Individual Determination.

Dearborn Public Schools fourth-grade teacher Rhonda Hassan saved the life of her choking student Ali Saleh Sept. 15. Saleh had returned from lunch and was working a math pretest when he reached down to pick up his pencil and began to make an unusual noise when he stood up. Hassan stepped in and repeatedly tapped his back between his shoulder blades when a grape flew out of Saleh’s mouth.

Dearborn Heights resident, Sam Farran, 54, was released by Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen on Sept. 20. He returned home on Sept. 22 after spending six months imprisoned in Yemen where he was sent for work as a security consultant.

Artspace began its application process for artists looking to lease lofts in their City Hall Lofts project Sept. 25. The project will offer residents a choice between studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom lofts as well as work and commercial space for lease. The completed $16.5 million arts campus project will include 53 apartment units made up of affordable live and work space for artists and their families.

The statue honoring former Dearborn Mayor Orville Hubbard was removed from the former city hall campus Sept. 29. The move came after the city agreed to remove the statue when the non-profit Artspace purchased the property in 2014. The statue will be relocated to the Dearborn Historical Museum early in 2016.


The Royal Dearborn Hotel & Convention Center in Dearborn received a new management company, Cusa LLC, on Oct. 5. Cusa took over management after former management company Lodging Host Hotel Corp. tendered notice on its contract with hotel ownership.

Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, 89, was in the hospital on Oct. 6 where he underwent a heart procedure Oct. 9. On Oct. 7 he also underwent a angiogram where doctor’s determined that he did not have a silent heart attack. Dingell is the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history after serving almost 60 years.

An anti-Muslim rally drew 12 protestors to Dearborn’s Henry Ford Centennial Library on Oct. 10 protesting against Islam and immigration in Michigan and the country. About 20 other cities across the country held similar rallies on the same day. The 12 protesters in attendance, held signs reading “Stop Islamization of America,” “No more refugees” and “ Noooo radical Islam” while openly carrying guns.

The Christopher Columbus statue was vandalized on Oct. 12 the same day as the national holiday in his honor. Officers discovered red paint splattered on the statue on Oakman Boulevard similar to the Columbus statue in Detroit.

Dearborn Heights man Dennis Diacova, 60, died after a fire broke out Oct. 18 in his mobile home at Riverside Properties Mobile Home Park. Firefighters found the man unconscious in the living room. He was transported to Beaumont Hospital-Dearborn where he died of his injuries.
A 9-year-old boy was stabbed by his 20-year-old brother Alaa Daher at their house in the 7700 block of Steadman on Oct. 19. On Oct. 21 Daher was charged with assault with intent to murder in 19th District Court where the bond was set at $1 million cash or surety.

ACCESS reopened its Hope House Clubhouse, for the first time since 2013, with a celebration Oct. 21. The clubhouse provides a place for adults with a history of mental illness to reach their vocational and educational goals by connecting them with local opportunities. The 8,000-square-foot clubhouse at 6470 Williamson includes a newly-planted garden, computers, library, recreational activities and English as a second-language classes.

Arab-American political pioneer Michael Berry died Oct. 24 at the age of 95. Berry was the first Muslim lawyer of Arab decent to practice law in Michigan and served as a chairman on the Wayne County Road Commission for 16 years. The Michael Berry Center in Dearborn was named in his honor when it opened in 2005 and the Wayne Country Airport Authority will name its new headquarters after Berry in 2017.

During a special Dearborn City Council meeting Oct. 26, residents were given the opportunity to buy back their foreclosed houses. Under Right of First Refusal, the city was able to buy from Wayne County 31 foreclosed homes on which homeowners failed to pay taxes for three years. The city purchased the houses in July after they were foreclosed by Wayne County and gave out eviction notices in September after it received the title to the houses.

Ryan Whiston, 32, the son of current State Board of Education Superintendent and former DPS Supt. Brian Whiston, died in a car crash Oct. 26. The multi-vehicle crash occurred in Waterford Township about 7:30 a.m. when Ryan was on his way to work. A 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by 20-year-old Waterford man was driving west on Highland Road when he collided with Ryan Whiston’s 2007 Pontiac G6 while it was turning onto eastbound Pontiac Lake Road.

DPS students had the opportunity to speak to international Space Station astronaut Kjell Lindgren Oct. 27 through short wave radio signal. In total, 18 students in grades 1 to 8 asked Lindgren questions about medical protocol and diet to exercise in space. Dearborn was one of 15 school districts selected from across the country to participate.


The 105-year-old SS Ste. Claire Boblo boat was docked on the Rouge River at Dix Avenue and Dearborn Road Nov. 4 after it was moved from Ecorse. The SS Ste. Claire is one of the two original Boblo boats. Henry Ford Hospital doctors and co-owners Ron Kattoo, 47, and Saqib Nakadar, 37, purchased the boat in 2007 for $250,000 and aim to restore the boat so friends and family can share memories with their children.

Two new faces and one inducement earned a spot on the Dearborn Heights City Council after winning the Nov. 3 general election. Newcomers Ray Muscat, 61, and Wassim “Dave” Abdallah, 49, received 3,294 and 2,394 votes, respectively. Incumbent Lisa Hicks-Clayton, 50, retained her spot with 4,020 votes. Voters also approved a charter amendment proposal with a 4,128-to-1,393 vote. District 7 voters passed a $4.5 million technology bond by a 711-665 vote.

Police arrested and charged Daniel Taylor, 26, of Lincoln Charter Township with harassing or annoying communication, breach of peace and providing false information to a police officer on Nov. 5. Each charge came with a $1,000 bond. Police said Taylor was involved in a sending threatening emails to Divine Child Catholic High School and to the city of Dearborn Oct. 26.

The first ever ComiqueCon was held at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn Nov. 7. The celebration featured a wide range of work from female artists, editors, writers, publishers, graphic artists, illustrators and more. Panels, workshops, autograph sessions and panels were all available to ComiqueCon attendees.

Shots were fired Nov. 10 near Orange Julius inside Fairlane Town Center after two men had a dispute. Detroit resident Diente Watts, 22, was charged Nov. 13 with armed robbery, felony firearm and carrying a concealed weapon and was placed under $400,000 bond for the incident.

The Dearborn Heights Fire Department was given five animal rescue oxygen mask kits Nov. 11 by Invisible Fence Brand to save the lives of pets during fires. The masks allow firefighters and EMS staff to give oxygen to pets who are suffering from smoke inhalation when they are rescued from fires and often save pets’ lives.

The Dearborn Police Department announced that it joined Nextdoor, the free and private social network for neighborhoods, Nov. 12. Nextdoor will connect the Police Department online with residents to build stronger, safer communities with the help of residents. Dearborn residents can create private neighborhood websites to share information, including neighborhood public safety issues, community events or activities, local services and lost pets.

Dearborn residents Leila Taleb and her husband, Hussien Mostapha, along with Leila Mazloum lost their lives during double terrorist bombings in Beirut on Nov. 12. The first suicide attacker detonated an explosive vest outside a Shiite mosque after a nearby man grabbed the bomber, stopping him from going inside the mosque. The second suicide attacker detonated his bomb inside a bakery near the mosque. The third suicide attacker was found dead, not from his explosive vest but possibly by the second bomber’s detonation.

The Michigan Council of Imams gathered to condemn the terrorist attacks in Beirut, Paris and around the world during a press conference held at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights Nov. 18. Representatives and imams of the council expressed their thoughts, concerns and position of the Muslim community regarding terrorism and the suspended efforts by Gov. Rick Snyder to help Syrian refugees come to Michigan.

Dearborn doctor Hicham Elhorr, 48, was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in a multi-million-dollar Medicare fraud scheme. Elhorr was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds of the Eastern District of Michigan on Nov. 19 and was ordered to pay over $2 million in restitution. Elhorr pleaded guilty in May to leading, directing and employing unlicensed individuals through his visiting physician practice, House Calls Physicians PLLC, who held themselves out as licensed physicians.

Anthony Sharay, 19, of Dearborn was charged for holding a victim hostage with a pair of scissors to his neck after breaking into a house in the 5000 block of Williamson Nov. 18. He was arraigned Nov. 20 in the 19th District Court on first degree home invasion, assault with the intent to murder, great bodily harm, felonious assault, unlawful imprisonment and assault with a dangerous weapon charges and placed under a $500,000 bond.

A  57-year-old woman Dearborn Heights was killed Nov. 24 after she was struck by a vehicle crossing through a green light on Michigan Avenue. The 57-year-old woman was walking across Michigan Avenue at Outer Drive to catch an eastbound bus stopped at the bus top at 6:15 a.m. A 47-year-old Woodhaven resident was traveling east on Michigan Avenue, crossing through the green light at Outer drive when she hit the victim. The victim was taken to Beaumont Hospital-Dearborn where she was pronounced dead.

DTE Energy restored power to the more than 6,000 Dearborn residents who were affected by a power outage from Nov. 23 to 24. A fire broke out at a DTE substation on Warren Avenue near Schaefer Road in Dearborn about 7 a.m. Nov. 23. The cause of the fire was unknown, but was possibly due to equipment malfunction. No injuries were reported.

The Dearborn Administrative Center parking lot received energy-efficient lights through the national Adopt-A-Watt program Nov. 24. The program placed 21 lights in the DAC parking lot, paid for by private sponsors to offset the city of Dearborn’s operational costs, promote environmental stewardship and encourage the city’s future investment in green technology.

A woman was removed from the Dearborn Heights Justice Center after she yelled and ripped multiple pages out of a Quran Nov. 25. The woman was escorted out of the center on after she entered a the justice center and began yelling obscenities toward the religion of Islam and tore pages from the Quran and throwing them on the ground.

The City of Dearborn was named the top Christmas town in Michigan by Nov. 30. The main attraction as mentioned by the site is Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village held annually throughout December.


The Dearborn and Dearborn Heights Goodfellows raised over $40,000 each in their annual newspaper sales benefiting their “No Child Without a Christmas” campaigns. Police officers, firefighters, high school honor clubs, volunteers and business owners participate in the annual campaign collecting donations on main roads, businesses, organizations and community centers. Various gifts are purchased and given to children between the ages of 2 and 11 who live in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.

About 40 Dearborn firefighters and donors distributed gifts to children at the Beaumont Center for Exceptional Families Dec. 11 through their burn drive campaign. Firefighters have been participating in their annual holiday giving campaign for 30 years and have partnered with the center for 10 years to spread holiday cheer to the families.

Two Stout Middle Schools students were suspended and one expelled after leaving a threatening letter in a student’s locker Dec. 14. Eighth-grader Brianna Lyons opened her locker that morning and found a handwritten note with a threat to kill her and her family.

Michigan State Police executed a search warrant in the Dearborn City Clerk’s Office Dec. 16 as part of an embezzlement investigation. Officers left the Dearborn Administrative Center with several boxes filled with documents.

A 20th District Court security guard fatally shot Dearborn Heights man Marking Henning, 48, after he lunged at the guard with a knife inside the Dearborn Heights Justice Center Dec. 17. Henning was in the lobby of the building when he refused to place his belongings in the required basket during the entrance screening process. Henning then pulled out a knife and allegedly lunged toward the guard, who reportedly drew his weapon and shot Henning multiple times.

DPS students had the opportunity to shop with Dearborn police officers and firefighters during the annual Shop With a Hero event Dec. 18. About 40 children met at Walmart, 5851 Mercury Drive, ready to shop with their $100 gift cards. The annual event is held in collaboration with the Dearborn Police Charity Organization and the Dearborn Firefighters Burn Drive.

Over 150 Muslims and community supporters gathered to rally against terrorism and hatred toward Islam Dec. 19 at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. The group Dearborn Strong made up of community members and leaders spoke out against terrorism, stereotyping and hate placed on Islam in America.

Dearborn Heights man, Nicholas Chelar, 24, was arrested and charged with third degree arson and larceny Dec. 21 after he allegedly set fire to a projector room inside the Riviera Cinema in Farmington Hills. Police discovered the two fires at two separate locations inside a projector room on the second floor. The smoke from the fires caused the fire alarm to go off and the evacuation of 20 people from the theater.

Kevin Matthews, 35, of Detroit was shot and killed by a Dearborn police officer Dec. 23 in Detroit. The police officer was patroling the Tireman Avenue and Greenfield Road area when he spotted Matthews, who was known to be wanted on a warrant and larceny incident. After a foot chase and struggle between the two men, the Dearborn police officer shot Matthews multiple times near a house in the 8000 block of Whitcomb in Detroit. Matthews was pronounced dead at the scene and the officer was taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries he sustained during the incident.