The 44-year-old owner of an Owen Sound, Ont., restaurant who was in critical condition after a beating outside his restaurant in what police say was a dispute over an unpaid dining bill has died in a London hospital.
Sharif Rahman died Thursday. According to Owen Sound police, Rahman was attacked by three male patrons who visited his restaurant, The Curry House, in the heart of the city on Aug. 17.
On Friday, police said the investigation into Rahman's death is now considered a homicide. Investigators are still trying to locate the suspects.
Image released by police shows one of three suspects running from the scene of an incident that left Rahman in a London hospital. (Owen Sound Police Service)
Police said Rahman and his nephew became embroiled in a dispute with the suspects on the sidewalk outside his restaurant over an unpaid bill, and things turned violent.
Rahman was seriously injured and sent to hospital, where he was put on life-support.
Rahman's death 'bad irony' for man 'always giving back'
Mark Barbosa, a local Realtor and a friend of the family, announced the death on Friday morning on the web page for an online fundraiser.
Barbosa later spoke to CBC London and said Rahman, who was kind and had a big smile, embodied "the peaceful, humble lifestyle," and genuinely enjoyed entertaining and pleasing his restaurant clientele with his food.
"He would help anybody with anything, and he did. He was a supporter of charities. He cooked in his kitchen for homeless places. He was always giving back to his community, and so this is such a bad irony could happen to such a peaceful person."
Barbosa said he first met Rahman when he sold him a house and they "just clicked." From there, Barbosa and his wife were regular customers at The Curry House and they even had an anniversary dinner there.
Barbosa said Rahman was a pacifist and he doubts he'll ever understand how anyone could assault the restaurant owner, especially over an unpaid dinner bill.
"Will anybody ever know? I don't know," he said. "I do know this: Sharif would not have forced the issue if they refused to pay. I don't believe he would have forced an altercation.
"I believe he would have just said, 'OK. God bless. Maybe come back one day. Just go. He did not make any kind of scene, and I think he got cornered or dragged out, and those guys were looking for trouble."
Rahman leaves behind his brother, a nephew who work at the restaurant, as well as his wife and six-year-old daughter.
A makeshift shrine as well as messages of support and love have appeared on the doorstep of The Curry House since Rahman was beaten Aug. 17. (Facebook)
An online fundraiser organized by Barbosa has raised $165,651 as of Friday evening. Investigators with the Owen Sound Police Service had yet to confirm Rahman's death.
Police looking for suspects
On Thursday, police released images of two suspects and a vehicle — they were seen leaving the scene of the incident on Aug. 17. The suspects ran southbound on 2nd Avenue East towards 9th Street, where they continued eastbound on 9th Street East, police said.
Police said Thursday this vehicle was seen leaving the scene of the attack in front of The Curry House in downtown Owen Sound. (Owen Sound Police Service)
The two suspects are believed to be in their mid-20s to mid-30s, police said.
They described the first suspect as:
White, between 5-foot-10 and 6-foot-2, with a medium build and short, dark hair. He was wearing a light blue T-shirt, black shorts and black running shoes at the time of the attack.
The second suspect is described as:
White, between 5-foot-10 and 6-foot-2, with a medium build and short, brown hair that's longer on the top. He was wearing an orange T-shirt, black shorts and black running shoes.
Owen Sound police released these images of two suspects leaving the scene of the attack. (Owen Sound Police Service)
The third suspect is described as:
White, with curly hair, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, and likely in his late 40s to mid-50s.
Police said the vehicle in question appears grey or blue, and is an early 2000s model Ford Escape or Mazda Tribute.