A Pakistani American photographer based in Chicago was killed by her ex-husband last week in what police ruled as a murder-suicide.
The incident occurred at a condominium unit in the 200 block of E. Ohio Street in Streeterville on the afternoon of July 18. Chicago police arrived at the residence to conduct a welfare check and heard a gunshot from inside, according to the police report obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Upon entering the unit, police found a woman’s body with a gunshot wound to the back of her head and dried up blood on her face. In the unit’s bedroom, they found a man shot in the head with a 9-millimeter Glock handgun in his hand and a suicide note nearby.
The Cook County Coroner’s Office later confirmed to ABC News that the man and woman were Raheel Ahmed, 36, and his ex-wife Sania Khan, 29.
Khan was pronounced dead at the scene, while Ahmed was transported to Northwestern Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. A weapon was also recovered from the scene.
Authorities ruled Khan’s death as a homicide and Ahmed’s death as a suicide.
Police said Ahmed traveled more than 700 miles from Alpharetta in Georgia to Streeterville, where Khan moved to in June 2021.
Alpharetta police requested a welfare check on Ahmed to their counterparts in Chicago after family members of the man reported him missing. A police officer from Alpharetta told Chicago police that Ahmed and his ex-wife were “going through a divorce” and that he was depressed and traveled to the city to “salvage their marriage.”
However, two of Khan’s friends told the Chicago Sun-Times that their divorce was finalized in May.
Khan, a professional photographer who specialized in weddings, was planning to move back home to Chattanooga, Tennessee, before the tragic incident, her high school friend Grant told the publication.
The Chicago-based photographer used to talk about her relationship on TikTok under the handle @Geminigirl_099 and had revealed that her marriage to Ahmed lasted less than a year before they got divorced.
“Going through a divorce as a South Asian Woman feels like you failed at life sometimes,” she wrote in video posted on June 1. “The way the community labels you, the lack of emotional support you receive, and the pressure to stay with someone because ‘what will people say’ is isolating. It makes it harder for women to leave marriages that they shouldn’t have been in to begin with.”
“South Asian culture is so mentally draining,” Khan wrote in another video posted on the same day. “Sitting in a coffee shop getting lectured by family members after my TikTok went viral. Women are always expected to stay silent. It’s what keeps up in messed-up situations in the first place. I’m done with this mentality.”
“The first few months of any divorce journey is the darkest,” Khan wrote in another TikTok post. “It’s full of anxiety, sleepless nights, wondering if you’re doing the right thing, thinking Allah abandoned you and feeling hopeless. You are not a failure because your marriage did not work out. Be gentle with your heart during this stage. Time does heal all things and it will get better.”
A GoFundMe campaign was set up to cover Khan’s funeral and burial costs, with the remaining balance donated to Sakhi for South Asian Women and the Peaceful Families Project. The campaign raised over $36,000 before Richie Rivera, its organizer from Chattanooga, disabled new donations.
If you or anyone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources. Starting July 16, those in the United States can be routed to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling the three-digit code 988.
Featured Image via TikTok