A 44-year-old Kenosha man was charged Tuesday with the shooting death of Khaled Alchaar outside Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen in Pleasant Prairie in May.
According to the criminal complaint, Shawn Amelio Sr. told police he shot Alchaar after the younger man pulled a gun on Amelio’s 19-year-old daughter during a meeting for a drug sale.
Amelio was charged Tuesday with second-degree reckless homicide in the shooting death of Alchaar, along with four counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety with a dangerous weapon. His daughter Christina Amelio, 19, was charged with a related drug-dealing offense.
Alchaar’s death in the busy parking lot of a popular restaurant on May 20 shocked the community.
Alchaar called his brother, who lived minutes away, immediately after he was shot, and the brother and his wife arrived in the parking lot before police, finding Alchaar bleeding and alone. He died after being taken to a hospital.
In the aftermath of his death, Alchaar’s family expressed frustration that police focused on searching the area for the shooter before treating Alchaar for his wounds.
There was also a public outcry about the length of the investigation, and rumors spread on social media about the identity of the shooter.
At Amelio’s initial appearance Tuesday, District Attorney Michael Graveley said that in recent weeks Amelio and his daughter have been cooperating with police, including arranging through their defense attorneys to meet with investigators and admitting their involvement in Alchaar’s death.
The father and daughter appeared voluntarily at their initial appearance in court with their attorneys. Amelio was taken into custody by deputies in court.
Graveley said that after the shooting, Amelio continued to be involved in selling marijuana in a business that involved two of his children.
“He fled the scene. He admitted he destroyed the murder weapon as well as the casing,” Graveley said. “He stayed silent when people we now know were completely innocent were being accused (of shooting Alchaar) on social media.”
Focus of investigation
According to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Pleasant Prairie Police have been focused on Amelio and his daughter since shortly after the shooting.
Security video from the restaurant showed a vehicle registered to Amelio leaving the parking lot after the shooting. Police began questioning members of the family in early June, and they denied having been at Cheddar’s on the night of the shooting.
As the investigation progressed, police got access to the family’s social media account records using warrants and served a warrant on their home that led to drug charges being filed against Amelio, his daughter and his son in August.
The family began working with defense attorneys at that time, arranging for the father and daughter to confess to their involvement in Alchaar’s death.
“Their cooperation is pretty much unmatched, at least in my career,” said Amelio’s defense attorney Don Bielski.
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Drug deal gone bad
The complaint states that Christina Amelio had set up a meeting with Alchaar to sell him 2 ounces of marijuana. She planned at first to meet him at a park on May 20, and drove with her father Shawn Amelio Sr. to the park for the meeting. Alchaar did not show.
The father and daughter left, going to pick up food, but Christina continued to message with Alchaar, according to the complaint, and agreed to meet at Cheddar’s.
According to the complaint, the Amelios told police that when they got to the restaurant parking lot, Alchaar got into their car. When Christina gave him the bag of marijuana, Shawn Amelio said, he heard Alchaar say, “This is what’s happening: You’re getting robbed.”
“Defendant Shawn Amelio stated that out of the corner of his eye he saw the barrel of a gun, which was pointed at defendant Christina Amelio’s head,” the complaint states.
Shawn Amelio said when Alchaar got out of the car, he got out of the vehicle as well, yelling, “Hey, stop” as Alchaar ran away.
“Defendant Shawn Amelio stated that he observed the gun in Khaled’s right hand and noted that his right arm was being raised up. Defendant Shawn Amelio indicated that Khaled did not fire a shot, just pointed the gun at him.
“(Amelio) stated that as Khaled was turning, he began to draw his gun,” the complaint states. “(Amelio) stated that he fired off one shot from his gun.”
The complaint states that Amelio did not believe he had shot Alchaar because Alchaar ran away. It states they learned later through social media that Alchaar had died.
Gun not found
According to the complaint, a couple with two daughters were walking across the parking lot at Cheddar’s when they heard gunfire and saw a man, later identified as Alchaar, running toward them from the west end of the parking lot.
As the family tried to run back to their car, one of the daughters “and Khaled were face-to-face within a few feet of each other and close enough to have almost collided.”
One of the family members told police Alchaar ran toward the nearby U.S. Cellular building and that he had his arm across his stomach. He said he did not see a gun.
Police found a bloody bag of marijuana in the parking lot. There is no mention in the complaint that they found a gun.
In court, Graveley said Amelio faces up to 107 years in prison. “It’s a violent offense, and it obviously ended the life of Khaled Alchaar,” Graveley said, but he said that firing a gun in a busy commercial area along Highway 50 also put others in the area in danger.
Graveley said the investigation showed Amelio and his daughter continued to be involved in selling marijuana after Alchaar’s death “with really no change in their business model.”
Amelio’s bond was set at $250,000. He was taken into custody by deputies after his court appearance.
Bond for Christina Amelio, who was charged with manufacture and delivery of THC and obstructing police, was set at $2,500. She was given until Tuesday afternoon to pay it.