2 wounded in Calif. shooting remain hospitalized

Hospital Corridor Gurney

The third victim injured in February in a shooting at a California dental practice has been identified as an employee. He and the front desk employee who was shot continue to be treated at area hospitals, according to a story published on March 4 by NBC 7 San Diego.  

George Issaian was working as the office manager at Smile Plus Dentistry & Orthodontics in El Cajon, CA, when he reportedly was shot five times by longtime disgruntled patient Mohammed Abdulkareem, who opened fired at the practice, fled, but was arrested later that day on February 29, according to the story.

Issaian, who still has two bullets lodged in his body, and front desk administrative assistant Yarelli Carrillo, 27, remain at local hospitals but are expected to recover from their injuries. On March 4, Carillo took her first steps since the shooting, according to the story.

Dr. Benjamin Harouni, 28, who worked as a dentist with his father at the family’s practice and is a 2022 graduate of the University of Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, sustained gunshot wounds to his torso and died from his injuries at the scene.

Abby Issaian, George’s wife and an employee at the Smile Plus practice in Mira Mesa, told NBC 7 that the employees at Smile Plus knew Abdulkareem, who purportedly started to "terrorize the office" in 2022. Abby claimed that the 29-year-old former patient had been referred to Harouni via a U.S. health program and was treated at the practice but was never happy with his dental work. Harouni did more work for Abdulkareem, but after multiple dental visits, he still wasn’t satisfied, according to the story.

On previous occasions, George would reportedly block Abdulkareem at the front door and escort him out of the building away from employees and patients. On February 29, that didn’t happen. Abdulkareem allegedly fired nine times at George, hitting him five times. George "'played dead' to stay alive," Abby Issaiain said.

On March 4, Smile Plus in El Cajon remained closed. Outside the office, there was a small bunch of flowers as well as a handwritten note that stated, "Sending love and support to the Harouni family. Wishing your employees a speedy recovery," according to the story.

One of Harouni’s patients also left a message of support. Louis Marotta, a patient who was scheduled to see Harouni on March 1, posted on the practice’s Facebook page that Harouni was a "wonderful young man," and a great dentist with a good sense of humor.

"Life can change in a minute," Marotta wrote. "… May God bless you all."

Abdulkareem, who was charged with murder and attempted murder, remains in jail.

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