Friday November 04, 2016

Shooting victim recounts fight to save his would-be killer from death penalty

'Hate causes a lifetime of pain' - some final words from Mark Stroman before he was executed in 2011.

'Hate causes a lifetime of pain' - some final words from Mark Stroman before he was executed in 2011. (Filmoption International)

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In 2011, Mark Anthony Stroman was executed in Texas — a decade after his murderous shooting spree where he targeted Muslims, saying he was enraged by the 9/11 attacks.

Stroman killed two people but the third person, Rais Bhuiyan, shot twice in the face, survived.

Rais Bhuiyan

Shooting victim Rais Bhuiyan recounts his campaign to save his would-be killer Mark Stroman from execution in the documentary, An Eye for an Eye. (FilmOption International )

"And as soon as he walked in 'I said, sir here is all the money, take it but please do not shoot me,'" Bhuiyan tells The Current's Friday host Dave Seglins of that day he'll never forget: Sept. 21, 2001.

"He was not looking at the money though. He was looking at me directly … From four to five feet away he pulled the trigger."

Bhuiyan tells Seglins he came to know about Stroman after his arrest on Oct. 5.

"He was on a journey to kill as many Muslims as possible as a retaliation of 9/11 terrorist attack," says Bhuiyan. 

"And if he was not arrested, he would have killed more people. That was the first thing I came to know about him."
 


After returning from a religious pilgrimage in Mecca, Bhuiyan became the unlikely campaigner for Stroman's life, fighting to stop his execution. 

"When [Mark] came to know that one of his victims started a campaign to save his life from death row, he was reduced to tears," says Bhuiyan.

"It [struck] him powerfully, and he talked about mercy, about justice, world peace, he thanked the entire Muslim community."

Bhuiyan says that after the shooting incident he made a promise on his death bed.

"I asked God if he'd give me a chance to live, I promise I would do good things with my life."

He says at that time he forgave Stroman, but he didn't feel it was enough. It was then that he fought for Stroman's life.

An Eye for an Eye

Witnesses to the execution speading Mark Stroman's ashes in the Grand Canyon (Filmoption International)

Bhuiyan spoke to Stroman on the phone hours before his execution. At the time, he was still trying to stop his death in the courts that day.

"He saw me as his brother the day he was going to be executed," Bhuiyan recalls.

"When he said, 'I love you bro,' I still remember that there were teardrops falling on the floor."

Bhuiyan remembers how Stroman made him cry 10 years ago when he struggled to survive the violent hate crime against him, and how once again on the day of his execution tears were flowing.

"The first day I cried for my own life and that day, I was crying for him."

Bhuiyan shares his remarkable journey of hope and forgiveness in the documentary, An Eye for an Eye,

Listen to the full conversation.

This segment was produced by The Current's John Chipman.