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Parolee ID’d as cabbie killer

The Brooklyn Paper
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A parolee with a long rap sheet has been apprehended as the gunman who allegedly killed a Sheepshead Bay cabbie during a botched robbery on Avenue Z last week.

Prosecutors said that Donald Michel, 21, of 185th Street in Queens, was apprehended on December 31 after cops trailed him to a Coney Island apartment he was staying.

Michel had just been released from prison for stabbing a man in Manhattan. He had also been arrested in East Flatbush, both in 2005 on weapons possession charges and in 2003 for attempted robbery and assault.

After his arrest, investigators linked Michel to two burglaries in East Flatbush that took place in December, police said.

Michel was remanded into custody after being charged with murder in the first degree in the slaying of Zalmai Anwari.

Witnesses said that Anwari, a native of Afghanistan, was waiting at the base of his R & B Car Service on Avenue Z near Coney Island Avenue when he heard a commotion coming from the T-Mobile next door at 3:50 p.m. on December 29.

He investigated the noise, only to find himself face-to-face with the two thieves holding up the store.

Workers told police that Michel and an unapprehended accomplice allegedly entered the store and pulled guns.

While one of the men waited by the door, Michel pulled a gun and ordered the employees to the back of the store, police alleged.

He was reportedly putting cell phones in a bag when his partner told him that Anwari had put his foot against the door to prevent them from escaping, police said.

Trapped, Michel’s partner allegedly barreled through the door, knocking it open. Michel allegedly opened fire, striking Anwari in the head.

Anwari died the next day at the hospital.

Police sources said that the thieves fled the store with just one phone, which was worth about $100.

Co-workers and friends told reporters that Anwari was working at the car service so he could send money across the seas back to his family.

He spent what little free time he had with his girlfriend, who had just given birth to their first child, friends said.

As cops closed the book on Anwari’s murder, they were investigating a second cabbie killing that took place in Coney Island the morning of Michel’s arrest.

Officials said that 63-year-old Khadim Bhatti, a resident of West 35th Street, was shot in the stomach after he had parked his vehicle near the corner of West 33rd Street and Neptune Avenue at 5:10 a.m.

He was rushed to Coney Island Hospital where he died of his injuries.

The two assailants ran off and were still at large.

Cops are asking anyone with information regarding Bhatti’s killing to come forward.

Calls can be made to the NYPD CrimeStoppers hotline at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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