Who was Dr Benjamin Harouni? Jewish Dentist Killed by Mohammed Abdulkareem

Dr Benjamin Harouni was a San Diego-based Jewish dentist with Smile Plus Dentistry who was shot and killed by a patient, Mohammed Abdulkareem.

Dr Benjamin Harouni ran Smile Plus Dentistry alongside his father, Dr Jack Harouni – the two are of Persian-Jewish descent.

At around 4:15 p.m. Thursday, February 29th, El Cajon Police were called to the 400 block of North Magnolia Avenue due to a reported active shooting inside a dental office in which an unknown number of shots were fired.

Responding officers arrived to find three victims and immediately administered life-saving measures, according to ECPD Capt. Rob Ransweiler.

One male victim – Dr Benjamin Harouni – died at the scene, while two other victims — a man in his 40s and a woman in her 20s — were taken to the hospital and expected to survive.

In this article, we breakdown all we know about Dr Benjamin Harouni as well as his assailant, Mohammed Abdulkareem.

Let’s dive right in!

Who was Dr Benjamin Harouni?

dr benjamin harouni

Dr Benjamin Harouni was a popular doctor with Smile Plus dentistry in San Diego who was shot and killed at his practice by an alleged disgruntled former customer, Mohammed Abdulkareem.

Dr Benjamin Harouni died in the shooting whilst two others were injured.

Suspect Mohammed Abdulkareem was apprehended by police.

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The incident occurred Thursday, February 29th 2024.

So who was Dr Benjamin Harouni? He was a dentist with Smile Plus Dentistry in San Diego which he ran with his father, Dr Jack Harouni.

Dr. Benjamin Harouni earned his undergraduate degrees in Natural Science and Political Science at the University of Southern California.

He continued his education at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, where he earned his Doctorate of Dental Surgery.

According to his Smile Plus Dentistry profile: “Becoming a dentist has been Dr. Harouni’s lifelong passion and he takes pride in providing all of his patients with honest and quality dental care.

“He loves getting to know patients and he strongly believes that spending time to educate his patients on maintaining oral health is an integral part of providing quality care. Dr. Harouni’s patients appreciate his dedication to making the dental experience as pleasant and enjoyable as possible,”

Dr Benjamin Harouni’s life was cut short in its prime when he was shot and killed by Mohammed Abdulkareem, a Muslim customer.

dr. benjamin harouni

Emily Shar, an Iranian-American activist reported the news on X (formerly Twitter).

“Yesterday February 29th 2024, Dr. Benjamin Harouni, a Persian Jewish dentist was shot and killed inside of his dentistry in San Diego, California by 29 year old Mohammed Abdulkareem.

“May he rest in peace. Antisemitism is real. My condolences to the Persian & Jewish community,” she wrote.

She added in follow-up tweets: “Officials are still looking into a motive, the El Cajon Police Department published shooters photo, he is named Mohammed Abdulkareem (29). After the shooting he fled the scene in a U-Haul truck,”

Police later arrested Abdulkareem, according to a post eulogising Dr Benjamin Harouni from StandWithUs, a non-profit fighting against anti-semitism.

“We are heartbroken and outraged to learn of the murder of Dr. Benjamin Harouni at his dental practice in San Diego at the hands of one of his patients, Mohammed Abdulkareem.

“Benjamin was an inaugural member of the StandWithUs high school internship program in 2012. Media outlets have been dismissing the shooting as a result of mental instability, as they often do when Jews are the victims of murderous hate,” StandWithUs wrote on Facebook.

“We call on law enforcement to investigate this as a hate crime. Our hearts go out to Benjamin’s loved ones in the wake of this senseless tragedy.

“May his memory forever be a blessing,”

Dr Jack Harouni, who run Smile Plus Dentistry with his son, Dr Benjamin Harouni, is a graduate of the USC School of Dentistry and has served as clinical faculty at The University of Pacific School of Dentistry in San Fransisco.

san diego dentist dr benjamin harouni and his dad, dr jack harouni

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Dr Jack Harouni has over 35 years of experience and “prides himself on providing exceptional patient care”, according to his Smile Plus Dentistry profile.

He is the founder of Sacramento Spa Dentistry, one of the most elite and favorably reviewed dental offices in the Sacramento region.

As the owner of Smile Plus Dentistry, Dr. Harouni, along with his team, is excited to bring his expertise and high regard for quality patient care.

Mohammed Abdulkareem arrested for Dr Benjamin Harouni murder

mohammed abdulkareem

A 29-year-old Muslim, Mohammed Abdulkareem has been arrested for the murder of Dr Benjamin Harouni.

At around 4:15 p.m., El Cajon Police were called to the 400 block of North Magnolia Avenue due to a reported active shooting inside a dental office in which an unknown number of shots were fired.

Responding officers arrived to find three victims and immediately administered life-saving measures, according to ECPD Capt. Rob Ransweiler.

One male victim – Dr Benjamin Harouni – died on the scene – whilst two others survived.

smile plus dentistry

The surviving victims are said to be in serious but stable condition.

During the initial investigation, police identified the suspected gunman as 29-year-old Mohammed Abdulkareem, of El Cajon.

ECPD officials stated, “Investigations also revealed that Abdulkareem was a former patient of the dental office. While the exact motive behind the shooting remains under investigation, it is believed that Abdulkareem was a disgruntled former customer.”

Police learned he fled the scene in a rented, white U-Haul pickup truck with an Arizona license plate.

“Detectives used the license plate information to determine that Abdulkareem had previously rented the vehicle in San Diego. Having that information so quickly, allowed for the photo of the truck and license plate information to be sent out to the public through news media and police department social media platforms to assist in locating Abdulkareem,” ECPD officials added.

After a witness saw what they believed was the suspect’s truck and contacted San Diego Police at around 9:11 p.m., SDPD officers confirmed the discovery of the unoccupied vehicle — with the matching license plate and description — at Sixth Avenue and Quince Street, near Balboa Park.

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SDPD officers spotted Abdulkareem in the area and took him into custody without incident, according to El Cajon Police.

ECPD officials said, “Abdulkareem was found to be armed with a loaded handgun and several loaded handgun magazines. Records checks on the handgun later showed that it was legally purchased by Abdulkareem, just 2 weeks prior to the shooting.”

ECPD Chief Mike Moulton said in a statement: “The El Cajon Police Department mourns with the family and friends of the deceased victim and extends heartfelt condolences to those injured in yesterday’s senseless and evil act of violence.

I would like to extend my gratitude to our local, state, and national law enforcement partners who assisted us during this tragic event.

El Cajon

El Cajon meaning “the box”) is a city in San Diego County, California, United States, 17 mi (27 km) east of downtown San Diego.

The city takes its name from Rancho El Cajón, which was named for the box-like shape of the valley that surrounds the city, and the origin of the city’s common nickname “the Box”.

El Cajón, Spanish for “the box”, was first recorded on September 10, 1821, as an alternative name for sitio rancho Santa Mónica to describe the “boxed-in” nature of the valley in which it sat.

The name appeared on maps in 1873 and 1875, shortened to “Cajon”, until the modern town developed, in which the post office was named “El Cajon”.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.4 square miles (37 km2), all land.

It is bordered by San Diego and La Mesa on the west, Spring Valley on the south, Santee on the north, and unincorporated San Diego County on the east.

It includes the neighborhoods of Fletcher Hills, Bostonia, and Rancho San Diego.

The 2010 United States Census reported that El Cajon had a population of 99,478.

The racial makeup of El Cajon was 43,746 (41.6%) White, 6,306 (6.3%) African American, 835 (0.8%) Native American, 3,561 (3.6%) Asian (1.7% Filipino, 0.5% Chinese, 0.4% Vietnamese, 0.2% Japanese, 0.1% Indian, 0.1% Korean, 0.6% other), 495 (0.5%) Pacific Islander, 26,498 (26.6%) from other races, and 6,832 (6.9%) from two or more races.

Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 31,542 persons (30.4%).[20]

About one-third of El Cajon residents are foreign-born.

In particular, the city has a large Iraqi immigrant population, consisting of both Arabs and Chaldean Catholics; both groups are among the largest such communities in the country.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2008-2010 Estimate, 7,537 residents self identify as Arabs (7.6%; mainly Iraqi), and 6,409 (6.4%) are Chaldean Catholic Assyrians.

In 2017, a spokesperson for the city of El Cajon estimated that 15,000 to 20,000 Chaldo-Assyrians live in the city.

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