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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A suburban Indianapolis Army veteran has been convicted in the road rage shooting death of a Muslim man, after witnesses said he hurled ethnic and religious insults at the victim, including yelling, “Go back to your country,” before opening fire.

A Marion County jury convicted Dustin E. Passarelli, 37, of murder on Wednesday after a three-day trial over the February 2019 killing of 32-year-old Mustafa Ayoubi. Passarelli, of Plainfield, could get up to 65 years in prison when he’s sentenced June 21 on the murder charge.

He was also convicted of a firearm enhancement charge that could boost his sentence by up to 20 years, the county prosecutor’s office said.

Defense attorney, Chris Eskew, told The Indianapolis Star that he and Passarelli were disappointed by the verdict, but he declined to comment further about the case until after the sentencing.

Passarelli shot and killed Ayoubi following a road rage incident on Interstate 465 that led to Passarelli following Ayoubi to an apartment complex on the city’s northwest side, according to court documents.

Passarelli told police that Ayoubi either threw something at his car or collided with it on the highway and that after he followed Ayoubi to the apartment complex, Ayoubi broke one of Passarelli’s car windows with a punch.

The defense argued that Passarelli was within his rights to fire at Ayoubi because it was self-defense.

Multiple witnesses said Passarelli and Ayoubi shouted inflammatory remarks at each other in front of a townhome. They said Passarelli yelled religious and ethnic insults at the unarmed Ayoubi, including, “Go back to your country,” shortly before he shot him.

Passarelli claimed that post-traumatic stress disorder he developed during his time in the Army contributed to his behavior on the highway and was partially to blame for the shooting. But Passarelli’s mental evaluation and PTSD claims were ruled inadmissible in court.

Passarelli was not charged with a hate crime. The FBI had said it was looking into whether Ayoubi’s killing involved a federal civil rights violation, but no federal charges were ever filed.

Six weeks after Ayoubi’s killing, Indiana lawmakers passed a hate crimes bill that included a provision allowing judges to impose longer sentences for crimes motivated by bias.

Before the bill became law, Indiana was one of five states without a hate crime law.

Ayoubi’s sister, who had urged lawmakers to pass a hate crime law, told The Indianapolis Star that her family was originally from Afghanistan and arrived in the United States in 2001 as refugees. They later became U.S. citizens.

Zahra Ayoubi said Wednesday that the verdict can allow her family to finally begin to celebrate her younger brother’s life four years after his killing.

“I wish this never happened,” she said. “The true justice would be if we were all still together right now. However, he died. And he left a legacy.”

Mustafa Ayoubi (Provided Photo/Family)

Previous coverage

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH-TV) – R.R. Donnelley and Sons will close its Plainfield facility, eliminating 79 jobs.

The company confirmed the plan in a notice to the state and posted on the Department of Workforce Development website Friday.

RRD cited “changing market conditions” as the reason to permanently close the facility on Airtech Parkway near the Indianapolis International Airport.

On its website, RRD called the 270,000-square-foot facility one of the largest in the company.

“RRD Plainfield provides final-stage product assembly, medical device kitting, direct-to-consumer web fulfillment, and point-of-purchase (POP) display assembly,” according to the company website.

The company told state officials the closing will begin May 14, and should complete within two weeks.

THORNTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — A van carrying young athletes collided with a backhoe Tuesday afternoon on U.S. 52, injuring three people, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office says.

The backhoe driver, Edward Shelley, 80, of Thorntown, was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.

From the van, a juvenile, who was not identified, and its driver, Sara Edwards, 19, of Lafayette, were taken to hospitals with injuries not believed to be life-threatening. The other van passengers, who ranged in age from 14-19, were not injured.

U.S. 52 remained closed at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. The road was expected to reopen by 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.

About 4 p.m. Tuesday, investigators believe the backhoe was going east and crossing U.S. 52 at County Road 650 North when it collided with the southbound van. The intersection is about 2 miles east of Thorntown.

Six volleyball players from Lafayette were traveling in the van on the way to the sports complex in Plainfield to play a league game. The players are home-schooled.

A 911 call alerted authorities about the crash. A Thorntown-Sugar Creek Township firefighter, who was not named, was just south of the crash, got to all patients
quickly, and began first aid.

No drugs or alcohol are believed to be involved.

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Plainfield-based MD Logistics has announced plans to open its first warehouse in the Research Triangle Park area in North Carolina. The third party logistics firm says the expansion, which is expected to create 30 jobs, will allow it to better serve the life sciences and pharmaceutical industry on the East Coast.

The 240,000-square-foot facility will be built in Garner, North Carolina, a southern suburb of Raleigh that is home to more than 600 life sciences companies.

MD Logistics says the warehouse will have cGMP-certified, pharmaceutical grade space that includes cold storage environments between 2-8°C and 15-25°C.

“The last few years have been unlike anything we have ever experienced in the supply chain industry.” CEO John Sell said in written remarks. “This expansion allows us to respond to an existing need in the marketplace for cGMP compliant warehouse space in the Life Sciences and Pharmaceutical Industry. We believe this expansion has us well positioned to continue to not only meet the demands of the industry but also continue to offer our customers the same level of service they have come to expect from us.”

The warehouse will be MD Logistics’ first facility in the area and sixth total in the U.S.

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Switzerland-based logistics company is detailing plans that will affect more than a dozen employees in central Indiana. In a notice to the state, Kuehne+Nagel Inc. says it will cease operations for Rolls-Royce Corp. at its facility in Plainfield.

The company says the decision is the result of the two companies terminating their commercial contract. The majority of the 17 affected workers are warehouse employees.

A spokesperson for Kuehne+Nagel provided this statement to Inside INdiana Business:

“There is a tenant switch in Plainfield. All staff at the facility have given the opportunity to move to the new tenant or to stay with us.”

The move is set to go into effect June 30.

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Plainfield-based Duke Energy Indiana is awarding nearly $120,000 in grants to 26 economic development organizations. Duke Energy says the funding is intended to catalyze job creation and investment throughout the state.

The funding is part of Duke Energy’s Partnership Program, which the utility says supports organizations that increase awareness of a region’s economic development strategies and product availability. The utility says the awards help economic development organizations fund marketing and strategic outreach efforts for their communities.

“Duke Energy is working hand in hand with our local and regional economic development partners to accelerate growth and job creation in the communities we serve,” said Erin Schneider, director of economic development for Duke Energy Indiana. “We’re proud to support these organizations, each of which plays a critical role in marketing Indiana’s communities to attract businesses and enhance the quality of life for our customers.”

Duke Energy says the grant amounts are based on the size and scope of the project. The recipients are listed below:

“Shelby County’s highly skilled workforce, affordable utilities and central location make it a really attractive area for large manufacturing operations,” said Brian Asher, executive director of the Shelby County Development Corp. “Duke Energy’s support will help fund an advertisement in The Japan Times that coincides with our travel to the country this fall to attract additional jobs and investment to our community as we visit the headquarters of several Japanese companies with facilities in Shelbyville.”

Duke Energy says it has contributed nearly $600,000 in grant funding since the program was established in 2017.

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Walmart (NYSE: WMT) will this week host a job fair for workers who were displaced by the recent fire at the retailer’s fulfillment center in Plainfield. Walmart says the event will focus on finding new positions within the company for the affected employees.

The job fair will run Tuesday through Thursday. Walmart says the employees who are placed in new roles during the event will maintain their current pay base and benefits.

On March 16, fire engulfed the 1.2 million-square-foot facility, known as IND 1. About 1,000 employees were working at the time, but all managed to evacuate safely.

Walmart has two fulfillment centers in Plainfield. Spokesperson Charles Crowson previously told our partners at the Indianapolis Business Journal that the facilities employ “several thousand people.”

The company did not specify how many employees were affected by the fire.

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Indianapolis-based New City Development has announced plans for a $300 million, 125-acre master planned community for in Plainfield. Hobbs Station will include not only residential, retail and restaurant space, but also offer logistics and build-to-suit office space.

New City Development is partnering with Formation Properties and Pulte Home on the project that will be constructed in multiple phases.

They say Hobbs Station will celebrate Plainfield’s history, its growing logistics industry, while also bringing new opportunities to the community.

“We have designed Hobbs Station to represent what we all love about Plainfield, a place that is both grounded and full of ambition,” said Isaac Bamgbose, founder and president of New City Development. “We respect the deep roots and strong legacy of growth, family, and commerce as key elements that define the town today. It is those key elements that will help to attract and retain the talented and diverse community members of tomorrow.”

The developer says phase one of Hobbs Station will include 300 apartment units with 30,000 square feet of street level commercial and amenity space, 99 single-family homes, and 500,000 square feet of modern logistics space.

At full build-out the project will have 240 single family homes, 650 multi-family residents, senior living housing, 70,000 square feet of neighborhood retail/restaurants, and 200,000 square feet of office space.

“We believe that with the right plan and partners we can build a global community here, all while remaining true to Plainfield’s values,” said Town Manager Andrew Klinger. “Hobbs Station was designed to bring together a multigenerational community and to give residents from all walks of life the flexibility to grow or downsize within the neighborhood.”

The various segments will connect with a two-mile extension of the Vandalia Trail, linking them to a new community park and other amenities. The partners expect to break ground this summer.

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Plainfield-based MD Logistics is mourning the loss of one of its co-founders. Mark Sell, who had previously served as the company’s chief executive officer and was most recently its executive advisor, has died after a brief battle with cancer.

Sell had stepped down as president and CEO in October, succeeded by his brother, John Sell.

“Mark dedicated his career to taking care of and ensuring the success of his clients and employees,” John Sell said in written remarks. “Mark’s boisterous persona and passion for business will be greatly missed. While we mourn the loss of Mark as an organization, we are comforted by the opportunity to continue on his legacy at MD Logistics and within the supply chain industry.”

Mark Sell co-founded the company in 1996 along with Dave Kiebach, who passed away in 2007. The company was acquired by Chicago-based Nippon Express USA Inc. in 2020.

PLAINFIELD (Inside INdiana Business) – The Duke Energy Foundation is awarding nine grants totaling $255,000 for mental health and substance abuse programs throughout Indiana. Stan Pinegar, president of Duke Energy Indiana in Plainfield, says the state has seen a rise in mental health and substance use disorders since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The foundation says the grants will fund services in Bartholomew, Dearborn, Decatur, Franklin, Hamilton, Hancock, Howard, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson, Lawrence, Monroe, Ohio, Ripley, Switzerland, Tippecanoe and Wabash counties.

“I have personally heard from our community leaders that more needs to be done, and we’re joining the fight by supporting the critical work of organizations that are providing pathways to prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services,” said Pinegar.

The organizations receiving grants include:

You can read more about the programs and initiatives by clicking here.