Family seeks justice after gunman kills Nairobi trader at prayer gathering 

A lone gunman sprayed bullets on Stephen Kariuki as his family watched in disbelief.

Photo credit: Family Album I Nation Media Group

A Kirinyaga family is crying out for justice following the brutal murder of their son, who was a businessman based in Nairobi.

Stephen Kariuki, popularly known as Karis Chokora, succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday after being shot five times by a lone gunman who had stalked him from the city.

Speaking in Karuti village, Gichugu constituency, the family said Kariuki was fatally attacked shortly after he arrived at his rural home for a family prayer meeting.

Kariuki was taking tea with seven family members as they waited for their pastor to arrive for the prayers when a gunman, whose face was covered with a helmet, stormed into the main house of his grandmother, Elizabeth Wakabari, 77.

He warned family members against raising the alarm, saying his target was the trader.

The assailant fired one shot at Kariuki, forcing him to kneel down with his hands in the air, as a sign of surrender.

But the gunman shot Kariuki again, twice in the chest, as he crawled into the bedroom to hide. The assailant followed Kariuki and sprayed him with more bullets before taking off, leaving him seriously wounded.

"We had a terrible experience because even after our son surrendered, the assailant continued shooting him. After the gunman left, Kariuki, who was bleeding profusely, asked us to take him to the hospital," said his aunt, Ms Charity Warui.

Elizabeth Wakabari

Elizabeth Wakabari, 77, breaks down after her grandson, Stephen Kariuki, a businessman was shot by a lone gunman at Karuti village in Kirinyaga County on November 25, 2022.

Photo credit: George Munene I Nation Media Group

"As we took Kariuki to the hospital, he wondered why the gunman had followed him up to his home."

After the attack, the gunman, dressed in grey jeans trousers and a jacket to match, collected the cartridges and put them in his pocket, possibly to cover up the evidence. 

Mr Kariuki, who owned a bar and a car wash in Nairobi, breathed his last on arrival at Kerugoya Referral Hospital.

Ms Wakabari, his grandmother, said she grabbed the gunman by the waist when he fired the first shot at Kariuki, demanding to know why he wanted to kill him.

"I boldly confronted the attacker in the house and firmly held him by the waist in a bid to protect my grandson, but he pushed me to the ground," said Ms Wakabari, sobbing.
Ms Warui said it was clear the murder was well planned and executed.

The family wants the assailant unmasked, arrested and prosecuted.

"We are calling on the government to identify the assailant and tell us why our son was eliminated," she added.

The family described Kariuki as a hardworking, humble and generous man who did not deserve to die in such a manner.

Family of slain kariuki

Shocked family members of the slain businessman Stephen Kariuki at Karuti village in Kirinyaga County on November 25, 2022.

Photo credit: George Munene I Nation Media Group

"He used to help us when we needed money. He had even bought sodas and other edibles for us to enjoy after the prayer meeting, which never took place following the incident that left us reeling in shock," said Ms Rose Ngima, another family member.

The family said Kariuki left Nairobi for his rural home in a Toyota Fielder. He told his family that on his way he saw a man on a motorcycle following closely behind him.

But he did not sense any danger and continued on his journey and arrived home safely.

As he was taking tea with the family, however, the assailant arrived with a pistol. He took the family by surprise and successfully accomplished his mission.

Kariuki, the firstborn in a family of three children, lived a quiet life in Nairobi but travelled regularly to Karuti village to be with his family.

Family members said Kariuki, a primary school dropout, moved to Nairobi after his mother died and started working as a tout.

He worked hard and established his own businesses, which he was managing before he died under a hail of bullets.

"Kariuki was the son of a single mother and we loved him so much because he was not a lazy man," another family member said.

His body is preserved at Kibugi Funeral Home as the family makes funeral arrangements.

After the attack, the assailant took off without stealing anything from the trader, said Millicent Ochuka, an officer with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Kirinyaga East sub-county.

The motive of the killing has not been established, she said.

"We would like to know why the trader, who hails from this area, was murdered," she added.

Residents said they heard gunshots from the scene.

"I was at home when I heard the sound of gunshots and I was shocked. Later I learnt that a trader who worked in Nairobi had been killed," one resident said. 
 

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