By Kim Minugh and Bill Lindelof
In a dramatic turn of events, Sacramento police have arrested the wife of murdered Afghan war veteran Ghulam Ayobi ,who was found shot last month in his minivan on Interstate 80.
Shajia Ayobi, 45, was booked into Sacramento County Jail at 10:50 p.m. Thursday after questioning by detectives.
Police said her statements just didn't add up. They now suspect she played a role in the shooting; however, they are not sure whether she fabricated her previous story about a carjacking or whether there were other suspects involved, said police Sgt. Andrew Pettit.
The couple's nephew, Munir Safi, issued this statement today: "Our family is incredibly distraught by this awful turn of events. We are withholding judgment until all facts are known and the police complete their investigation."
Police were called at 12:04 a.m. Dec. 18 to a report of a man shot on eastbound I-80 at Norwood Avenue. When they arrived, police found Ghulam Ayobi suffering from a gunshot to his upper body.
He later died at the hospital. Without a motive, police said only that they believed that Ayobi and his wife, who was with him but not injured, were targeted at random.
The information at the time indicated that the couple had left the home of a family friend in the area of Torland Street and San Juan Road in Natomas' Gateway West neighborhood.
Safi previously told The Bee that his uncle sat down in the passenger seat in the couple's minivan, parked in the friends' driveway, and apparently became aware of two people hiding in the back seat.
Under duress, the nephew said, Ayobi ordered his wife to drive, not look back and not to ask questions.
Shajia Ayobi was said to have followed directions and never got a good look at any assailants. The nephew said that Shajia told relatives and police the unknown suspects wanted money.
An altercation broke out as the minivan traveled eastbound on I-80. A shot broke out, according to the nephew, killing his uncle.
The suspects ordered Shajia to pull over on eastbound Interstate 80, east of Northgate Boulevard, the nephew said. After they fled, she pulled out her cell phone and called police, who told her to meet them at the Norwood Avenue offramp.
On Thursday, detectives re-interviewed Shajia Ayobi. Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Pettit said that detectives had wanted to speak with her for some time.
"She was one of the people we wanted to re-interview," said Pettit. "We were finally able to get a hold of her. "
Detectives brought her into the station Thursday afternoon, speaking with her into the evening. This morning a press release announced her arrest.
"Based on her interview and inconsistent statements, things just didn't match up," said Pettit. "In these types of investigations, our detectives are very keen on details. Some of those details were not lining up with the evidence we found."
Pettit said Shajia Ayobi made incriminating statements, but he was not able to elaborate.
No motive has been established for the killing of Ghulam Ayobi, a former Afghan soldier who had also served as a cultural adviser to U.S. troops headed for war in Afghanistan.
Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter @Kim_Minugh.