California dentist fatally shot at work, ‘disgruntled’ ex-customer arrested

EL CAJON, Calif. (KSWB) — A dentist is dead and two others are wounded after a man, believed to be a “disgruntled former patient,” allegedly opened fire in a southern California dentist’s office last week.

Police in El Cajon, about 15 miles east of San Diego, were called to Smile Plus Dentistry and Orthodontics shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday for an active shooting.

When officers arrived, they found three victims, El Cajon police explained. One of those victims, later identified as 28-year-old Benjamin Ariel Harouni by the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office, was pronounced dead at the scene from apparent gunshot injuries to the body.

The other victims, a man in his 40s and a woman in her 20s, were taken to the hospital in stable condition. Details about their injuries and their association with the dentist’s office were not released. Police noted others were in the building at the time of the apparent shooting but did not say whether they had been injured, or whether they were employees or patients.

Harouni was a dentist at the Smile Plus Dentistry and Orthodontics location, according to the company’s website.

“My heartfelt condolences go out to Ben Harouni’s family and friends. The Harouni family’s contributions to dentistry are renowned across the state, making this loss deeply felt in our community. Thank you to law enforcement for their prompt investigation into this heinous act of violence. The perpetrator must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” said Brian Jones, California Senate Minority Leader Senate District 40 of San Diego, in a post on X.

The suspect, identified as 29-year-old Mohammed Abdulkareem, was believed to be a “disgruntled former customer” of the dental office, authorities said. However, El Cajon Police said the relationship between the victims and Adbulkareem is unclear as of Friday.

Abdulkareem allegedly left the scene of the shooting and was on the run for several hours until police located him as well as the U-Haul pickup truck he was believed to be driving in the Balboa Park area. Police said they found a loaded handgun and several loaded magazines on him, which records show were legally purchased by Abdulkareem just two weeks before the shooting.

Abdulkareem has been booked into the San Diego County Central Jail on multiple felony charges, records show. He is facing one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder, but police also noted that further investigation into the incident could reveal additional felony charges.

He is scheduled to be arraigned this week.


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