TRAGEDY: Prof. Okafor shoots his wife, self dead in murder-suicide in U.S.
One of world’s leading poets of Nigerian descent Prof. Chukwudubem (Dubem) Agha Okafor, 64, shot his wife, Cheryl V. Okafor, 37, then turned the gun on himself after an argument inside his relative’s house in the 300 block of Pear Street, (in Reading Pennsylvania), investigators have said. He established with his wife the Multicultural and Literacy Institute in the area.
Here’s a detailed report by Brett Hambright/Reading Eagle on the traumatic event of Sunday August 15, 2010:
The Birdsboro couple were visiting Cheryl Okafor’s sister when an argument escalated into gunfire, police said.
The sister, whose name was not released by investigators, and her three children were inside the house when the first shots were fired about 3:45, police and neighbors said.
Chukwudubem Okafor shot his wife several times in the head and chest, then fired a single bullet into his head, investigators said.
Police said they were interviewing the relatives to learn more about the argument that prompted Chukwudubem Okafor to open fire in the front living room of the house.
“It’s another unfortunate example of domestic violence,” Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams said after leaving the scene. “It’s just very sad.”
David Frees, a neighbor, said he waved hello to Cheryl Okafor from across the street a few minutes before he heard gunshots.
“It’s a shame that we were probably the last people she said hello to,” Frees said, sitting next to another neighbor, Sandra Stauffer.
Frees said he clearly remembered seeing Cheryl Okafor earlier in the day because she was wearing gold shoes. “She looked out of place in this neighborhood,” he said. “Like a movie star.”
Neighbors said they heard shots, then saw the sister and her three children run out the front door.
The oldest son, a teenager, ran barefoot to a street corner and called 9-1-1, the neighbors said.
“My uncle just shot his wife,” the boy repeated, according to Frees. “He kept saying that really loud.”
When police went inside the house, they found both bodies in the front room and a .380-caliber handgun nearby, investigators said.
Investigators didn’t say if the children or their mother witnessed the shooting.
“I hope they didn’t see,” said another neighbor, who declined to give his name. “That would affect them for life.”
Berks County Chief Deputy Coroner Charles E. Sweitzer and Deputy Coroner Joel Bonilla pronounced the couple dead inside the house about 5:30 p.m. Both died of
gunshot wounds, Bonilla said.
The coroner’s office ruled Chukwudubem Okafor’s death a suicide and his wife’s death a homicide, according to Bonilla. Detectives and officers collected evidence and snapped photos inside yellow crime scene tape for hours after the shootings.
A swarm of neighbors watched as police surveyed the scene and the bodies were put into the coroner’s van.