FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Valerie Handschu started working at the Salvation Army Youth Center in 2009 when she met Adam Mekki and Taha Omar, both of Africa.
“I was just kind of drawn toward them from the beginning getting to know them, getting to know their story,” Handschu said about the young men.
We found pictures of the Mekki and Omar in a North Side High School yearbook. Both played soccer and they spent almost every day after school at the youth center with Handschu. So when she heard the news of their deaths, she couldn’t believe it.
“Never in my wildest dreams would have thought that something this harsh could have happened to sweet kids,” Handschu said.
According to police Mekki, Omar and 17-year-old Muhannad Adam Tairab were shot multiple times “execution style”.
But how they died isn’t what Handschu will remember the most about the young men, it’s how they lived. When it comes to Mekki she’ll remember that bright smile.
“He was just sweet and genuine,” Handschu said. “He was just full of joy and energy and always had a smile on his face.”
As for Omar, she’ll remember how he loved his family and making people laugh.
“He could make anybody laugh,” Handschu said. “I think he just got along with everybody in that way and could find a connection with any type of person.”
Bright, friendly and positive young men who made her time working at the youth center a joy.