Ex-boss on Tel Aviv shooting suspect: ‘I loved the man’
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Ex-boss on Tel Aviv shooting suspect: ‘I loved the man’

Greengrocer who employed Nashat Milhem for several years says he 'knew him like the back of my hand' and he was 'completely normative'

A former employer of Nashat Milhem, the suspect in the Dizengoff Street shooting, speaks to Channel 10 on January 5, 2016. (screen capture: Channel 10)
A former employer of Nashat Milhem, the suspect in the Dizengoff Street shooting, speaks to Channel 10 on January 5, 2016. (screen capture: Channel 10)

The former employer of the man suspected of carrying out Friday’s shooting in Tel Aviv said Monday that Nashat Milhem was by all appearances a “completely normative” person during the years he worked for him.

Milhem, 29, of Arara, a village in northern Israel, fled the scene of Friday’s deadly attack and was still being hunted Monday night. The shooting took place outside the Simta bar on Tel Aviv’s busy Dizengoff Street on Friday. Shift manager Alon Bakal, 26, and patron Shimon Ruimi, 30, were killed in a hail of bullets as the gunman opened fire with a submachine gun, and seven people were wounded. Police suspect Milhem went on to kill cab driver Amin Shaaban, a father of 11 from Lod, who was found shot to death in north Tel Aviv an hour after the attack.

The police manhunt has mostly focused on Tel Aviv, specifically the north of the city, where Milhem once worked and lived.

“He worked for me as a deliveryman for four, five years. He was a normative person,” Milhem’s employer, a greengrocer based in the Ramat Aviv neighborhood of north Tel Aviv, told Channel 10. The employer wasn’t named in the interview which aired Monday. He said he had absolutely no suspicion Milhem could have carried out such a deed.

“People trusted him to enter their homes and he was in contact with lots of clients. People loved him and so did I, I loved the man,” he said. “There were never complaints on the part of the customers, I wouldn’t have held onto him if there were.”

“He never talked about politics,” Milhem’s boss said. “He came from a very respectable family, I know the father. I knew [Milham] like the back of my hand. He worked, ate and drank with us.”

Undated photograph of Nashat Milhem (Channel 10 screenshot)
Undated photograph of Nashat Milhem (Channel 10 screenshot)

Police and Shin Bet internal security agency have no leads concerning Milhem’s whereabouts, the NRG news site reported Monday. Police conducted house to house searches around north Tel Aviv out of concern he was hiding out or holding someone hostage.

According to Hebrew media reports based on police sources late Sunday, Milhem is now known to have fled the scene of the shooting on Dizengoff Street on foot, and hailed a cab on nearby Ibn Gabirol Street. The vehicle drove to north Tel Aviv, where Milhem worked. There, Milhem is alleged to have killed Shaaban outside the Mandarin Hotel. He then drove the cab to Namir Road, where he abandoned it near a bus stop.

Namir is a major north-south artery in north Tel Aviv, from which Milhem could have caught a public bus or other vehicle transportation out of the city.

His mobile phone was found on nearby Reading Street in Ramat Aviv. “And that is the last point of reference for investigators,” the Ynet news site reported. However, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Monday that Milhem threw away his phone before he set off to carry out the attack.

Since Friday afternoon, Milhem, 29, from Arara in northern Israel, has remained at large. Authorities have warned he is armed, dangerous and capable of striking again.

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