The high school friend of a victim of the New Zealand mosque massacres said when he didn’t hear back from a message asking him if he was OK, he just assumed he was out helping people impacted by the violence.
Ultimately, Shaukat Khan, 49, was heartbroken to learn of the death of Naeem Rashid, 50, and Rashid’s son Talha, 21.
Khan went to high school with Rashid in Abbottabad, Pakistan from 1983 to 1986, but the pair remained in touch over the years as their lives took them abroad in separate directions.
“He always used to be the one we looked up to,” Khan said of Rashid from his home in Surrey, B.C., on Saturday. “He was more responsible. He had a lot of respect from his friends he was very kind to each and everybody.”
Rashid, and his son were killed on Friday March 15 when an armed man opened fire at two mosques in New Zealand.
Videos show Rashid trying to tackle the gunman, according to his brother. Khan said he was not surprised to hear that Rashid would try to save the lives of others.
“Somebody you look up to as very humble, very caring, very pious, a very thorough human being,” Khan said.
Khan said both he and Rashid became bankers, with Khan moving to Canada in 1999 with his family. The two stayed in touch over social media, often exchanging messages and having conversations.
Rashid moved to New Zealand where Khan said he began teaching and working towards a PhD. They spoke regularly about how grateful they were to be raising their families in countries where diversity was respected and accepted.
Khan said Rashid has two surviving sons with the youngest born in 2014.
When Khan heard about the violence in New Zealand, he sent his friend a Facebook message, but didn’t hear back.
“I was praying that himself and his family is OK and I did not receive any response and I was thinking in my head … he’s the kind of guy who will go out of his way and help out the community in the times of need,” Khan said.
Sadly, the next day he learned through other high school friends that Rashid and Rashid’s son were two of the victims.
‘Very tough times for us’
“Very, very heartbroken and very, very tough times for us,” he said about the loss.
The last time the friends corresponded was seven months ago when Khan asked Rashid to come for a visit in Canada, something he said his friend was enthusiastic about.
Now, Khan, who is a member of the group Pakistan Canada Association, is helping to try and raise funds to allow Rashid’s mother to get from Pakistan to New Zealand for his funeral.
This story originally appeared on CBC