Najeebat Sule, a 24-year-old former Nigerian beauty queen and doctoral student in Philadelphia, United States, has been shot dead while sitting in her car in front of her family’s home.
Sule, said to be known to her loved ones as Najee, was killed shortly before 6:00pm on March 12, 2021, close to her residence in the 8800 block of Frankford Avenue.
However, police have not found a motive for the killing and no arrest made almost three weeks after the incident.
The deceased was said to have recently earned a Master’s degree in public health from West Chester University and was pursuing a doctorate.
Another Nigerian lady, identified simply as Magaji, was among the last people to have seen Sule alive before she was gunned down.
The two women had spent the night before at Magaji’s home, eating snacks and watching Netflix together.
Less than 24 hours later, Sule was sitting in her grey Toyota Corolla, exchanging text messages with Magaji, when an unidentified man reportedly walked up to the vehicle with a gun drawn and shot her several times.
Sule’s father, Adewale Sule, heard the gunfire and rushed out of the house in time to see the suspect fire the last of the shots at his daughter.
“I saw the guy shooting my daughter. He shot the last round, and I pursued him.
“He ran back to his car,” Sahara Reporters quoted Adewale as saying.
She was rushed to Jefferson Torresdale Hospital, where she was pronounced dead about 30 minutes later.
Her mother, Tawakalitu Sule, said she last heard from her less than two hours before the shooting, when her daughter asked her when she would be home.
“All of my children have been crying every day because of their big sister. They miss her. I miss my daughter,” the report quoted DailyMail to have said.
Sule is survived by her parents and two sisters.
“She was very talented, smart and funny,” one of her siblings told 6abc.
The family is currently staying at an undisclosed location over unspecified concerns for their safety.
Sule and her family immigrated to Philadelphia from Nigeria in the early 2000s.
In 2019, she was crowned a second runner-up at the Miss Nigeria International pageant.
“Queen Najibat was an amazing young lady whose presence at the Miss Nigerian beauty pageant left a great ripple that continues to resonate,” pageant organizers wrote on Facebook.
“She was a breath of fresh air and her presence added a distinct touch that made the event memorable. She carried herself with great dignity and grace and her strength of character and approachability made her such a joy to work with.”
Sule’s death comes amid a surge in gun violence in Philadelphia, which has seen a 29 per cent homicide rate increase over the last year.
In the first three months of 2021, there have reportedly been 120 killings in Philadelphia, with 15 of the victims being children, according to Fox 29.
“This is unacceptable,” Police Commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, said on Wednesday during a meeting about the latest crime statistics, stressing that “these are human beings that we’re talking about.”