Another Hero… Waleed Shaalan Sacrificed Himself For Fellow Student


Graduate student Waleed Mohammed Shaalan, right, one of the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre, is seen with his wife Amira in this undated wedding photo. Shaalan, a native of the Nile Delta town of Zagazig, had gone to Virginia last year to study for a Ph.D. in civil engineering and was hit by three bullets, including one in the head, while in a classroom building, according to Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency. (AP Photo)

The Boston Herald reported the very sad story of Egyptian hero Waleed Mohammed on Thursday.

CAIRO, Egypt – The day before the Virginia Tech massacre, graduate student Waleed Mohammed Shaalan called home to say he would visit Egypt next month. He wanted to pick up his wife and 15-month-old son and bring them back to the United States.

The family got another call two days later. The Eyptian Embassy in Washington told them Shaalan had been one of the victims of Monday’s shooting.

“I talked to him over the internet Sunday,” his mother Saadiya Abdel-Mageed Ali said in a soft and anguished voice. “He asked me to move closer to the Web camera so he can see my face better. ’I want to see your face mama!’ he kept saying.”

Egyptian newspapers published photographs of Shaalan’s wedding. His wife Amira, 28, is also an engineer, Al-Ahram newspaper reported. She wore an intricately decorated white gown and veil, clutching a bouquet of pink flowers. Shaalan planned to bring Amira and his son, Khaled, to Virginia in May, his parents said.

“Why was he killed? What did he do? What is his guilt? He just wanted to continue his studies and obtain a Ph.D. He wanted to be unique in his field,” said Mohammad Shaalan, a retired government official. “I can only say that a man’s life is in God’s hands. Thanks be to God.”

Shaalan was killed while trying to save another student in a classroom building, The New York Times [NYT] reported on its Web site Thursday, citing Randy Dymond, a civil engineering professor.

Shaalan had been badly wounded and lay beside the other student, who was unhurt and playing dead. The shooter, Cho Seung-Huim returned twice to search for signs of life.

When Cho noticed the other student, Shaalan made a move to distract him and was shot a second time, Dymond told the Times. The other student believes Shaalan purposely distracted Cho to save him, Dymond said.

Shaalan’s mother broke down when she heard Dymond’s account.

“He was trying to save someone else?” she said repeatedly.

Shaalan obtained his bachelor and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Zagaziq University. He worked at a government research center before he receiving a scholarship to study at Virginia Tech.

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