Someone will crack, says police officer sister of student gunned down in mistaken identity

Alexander Kareem was shot dead in Shepherd's Bush, west London, in 2020
Alexander Kareem was shot dead in Shepherd's Bush, west London, in 2020

A police officer whose brother was killed four years ago in a case of mistaken identity is speaking out on what would have been his birthday in the hope that someone “cracks” to help solve the murder.

Alexander Kareem was gunned down close to his home in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, in June 2020.

On Monday evening his family and friends will gather for a vigil to mark the bright, ambitious student’s 24th birthday.

He was returning home from a local shop on his e-scooter, carrying sweets and a fizzy drink when he was shot dead.

Police believe the gunman was driving past in a white Range Rover and the killing was part of a drugs feud between rival gangs but the assassin got the wrong target.

The car – which had fake number plates and was stolen – was later found burnt out just three miles away but the firearm has never been recovered.

Nine people, including a boy aged 16, were arrested in connection with the shooting but they were later released and told they would face no further action.

Despite the offer of a £20,000 reward and exhaustive police investigations, nobody has ever been charged with his murder and with every passing year, the chances of bringing those responsible to justice becomes more distant.

There are more than 100 murders in London each year, but very few of them go unsolved.

Khafi Kareem ,left, and Victoria Oloniluyi, centre, the sister and mother of Alexander Kareem, prepare to lay roses on his coffin during his burial at Margravine Cemetery in Hammersmith, west London in 2020
Khafi Kareem ,left, and Victoria Oloniluyi, centre, the sister and mother of Alexander Kareem, prepare to lay roses on his coffin during his burial at Margravine Cemetery in Hammersmith, west London in 2020 - Kirsty O'Connor/pa

Alex’s family are determined his case will not be one of those and hope the vigil will prompt somebody to come forward and provide police with the breakthrough they need. Alex’s sister, Khafi, 35, a serving Metropolitan Police officer and mother-of-two said: “The vigil is an opportunity for Alex’s friends and family to come together and celebrate his life.

“To remember him and say to people ‘he did exist’. Sometimes it is so surreal. I find myself looking at a photo of him and I can’t quite believe that he is not here.

“We gather every year on his birthday, rather than on the anniversary of his death, because that is just too painful.

“I have two children who have never met their uncle. As a police officer I understand that the more time passes, the harder it is to obtain the evidence.

“But as his sister I also really believe the more we speak out about it and raise awareness, the more chance we have that someone will crack.

“As time passes, allegiances change and someone’s conscience might get the better of them and cause them to come forward. I have to believe that.

“Alex was innocent. He wasn’t the intended target and yet he was killed, If it could happen to him it could happen to anyone.

“Nothing will bring Alex back but nobody should be OK with living in a world where someone can get away with murder.”

Alex, who was a gifted IT student, was preparing to go to university when he was murdered.

His sister said: “Alex was a tech wizard and he would have been out of university now. I often wonder what he would be doing and how successful he would be. My mum called him Alex after Alexander the Great and she always said ‘he will be the great one in our family’.

She said the family have not put a stone on Alex’s grave because they do not feel they can do so until they have justice and closure.

Khafi said: “The detective in charge of the investigation said this is one of the hardest cases he has ever worked on and I know that with every passing year it becomes harder to get the evidence needed.

“But I hope that before we meet on Alex’s birthday next year there has been a breakthrough and we are closer to getting justice.”

The vigil will take place from 5.30-7.30pm at the basketball courts in Ravenscourt Park in Paddenswick Road.

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