Muslim Virginia Tech Student Gave His Life To Save Others

Posted on April 26, 2007


Sources: The New York Times and The Muslim Observer

A survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre has been describing how a colleague died to protect others. Although badly injured, graduate student Waleed Shalaan distracted gunman Cho Seung-Hui to save another person from his bullets.

Waleed saved another student’s life.

A Muslim Hero

The surviving student, who wishes to remain anonymous, told of Waleed’s heroics through an email to his supervisor.

He describes how he was left uninjured after Cho’s initial round of shots. Meanwhile, Waleed had been wounded but was still alive. However, when Cho later returned to the classroom to inspect for signs of life among his victims, the surviving student struggled to remain calm.

He believes he would have been shot dead were it not for Waleed’s “protective movement” that distracted the gunman. Cho turned and shot Waleed for a second time, killing him, before leaving the classroom.

Randy Dymond, a civil engineering professor, has said the student asked to him to tell the tale “so that the family of Waleed understands the sacrifice.”

Shaalan’s mother broke down when she heard Mr. Dymond’s account. “He was trying to save someone else,” she said repeatedly. Dymond said Shaalan’s body was taken to a Blacksburg mosque so classmates, teachers and friends could say goodbye before he was sent to Egypt for burial.

“Waleed was bright, energetic and caring,” Mr. Dymond said. “The reason we are in higher education is because there are students who are the bright light to the future. Waleed was one of them.”

Equally social and studious, Mr. Shaalan was active in the Muslim Student Association at Virginia Tech, and he especially enjoyed participating in the group’s community activities.

The Egyptian Consul has notified Mr. Shalaan’s wife and parents, all of who live in Egypt. Mr. Shaalan’s body will be flown back to his country in the near future, the vice consul, Mohamed Elghazawy, said.

“This is a very emotional time for his entire family, but especially his mother and father,” Mr. Elghazawy said.

Waleed left behind his wife of three years, Amira, and his one-year-old son, Khaled. The Muslim Students Association (MSA) of the USA and Canada has set up a fund to support his family uring these difficult times. The link in which individuals and MSAs all over the US and Canada can donate is below.

Please click here to access the link for donating to the Waleed Shalaan Memorial Fund. If you are having trouble donating, please e-mail to the and include the amount you’d like to donate.

If you’d like to donate by check, please mail your donation to:

MSA of the US and Canada
P.O. Box 1096
Falls Church, VA 22041

Checks should be made payable to “MSA of the US and Canada”. Please write “Br. Waleed Memorial fund” in the memo.

Note from Rafik Beekun: “To Allah we belong and to Him do we return.” Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raajighoun.  Muslims recite this verse of the Qur’an when they learn of another Muslim’s death.  We are proud of you, Brother Waleed.