Friends are still in shock over the killing of Chattanooga native Sania Khan by her estranged husband, Raheel Ahmed, who police say traveled from the Atlanta area to her Chicago condo and shot Khan before turning the gun on himself.
Police found Khan dead with a gunshot wound to the back of her head when they arrived at the condo, where they went to do a wellness check Monday afternoon, according to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times. The wellness check was requested by police in Alpharetta, Georgia, where Ahmed had been staying with family who reported him missing.
A gunshot was heard when police arrived, and Ahmed was found in the bedroom with a suicide note and a gunshot wound to the head.
The same day, Khan's best friend, Gabriella Bordo, of Chattanooga, was on a plane to Chicago to meet Khan. The two had signed a lease to rent a home in Brainerd and planned to rent a U-Haul to move Khan's things back to Chattanooga, Bordo said in a phone interview Thursday.
But when Bordo arrived at the Chicago airport, Khan wasn't responding to her texts. She received a call from Khan's parents on her way to the condo and learned of the deaths.
Khan was in the process of divorcing Ahmed, whom Bordo never met in person. She believes he knew of Khan's intent to move back to Chattanooga from both Khan's and Bordo's public social media accounts, where they had discussed their plans and the approximate timing of the move.
"He knew that was his last opportunity, his last time to get her alone," Bordo said.
Khan always loved Chicago, where she moved with Ahmed last summer shortly after they were married, Bordo said.
Bordo and Khan hit it off with each other when they met at Wildflower Tea Shop in Chattanooga in 2018, but then they lost touch until last year when Khan became friends with Jessica Eubanks. The three women became inseparable last winter as Khan was going through her separation from Ahmed.
"We decided to move in together as soon as we could, and today was supposed to be that day," Bordo said Thursday. "She was the only person that could match my energy, the only person that felt like a mirror. She was so funny, and we were so funny together."
Before becoming a professional photographer, Khan's first job out of college in 2016 was as a case manager for Signal Centers' Family Forward program, then called Baby University, where she worked with mothers who were pregnant or had children who were in preschool or younger to help set them up for lifelong success, said Signal Centers Director Donna McConnico.
"That program had a huge impact on our community, and it's always been a team approach, and she was a big part of that," McConnico said in a phone interview. "She was a good co-worker and a fierce advocate for women, and it's heartbreaking to see her life cut short in this way."
Bordo is holding a public memorial for Khan on Friday morning, where friends will meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Walmart on Signal Mountain Road and drive to Falling Water Walls in Walden for a hike and ceremony.
"She loved the mountains here, so we knew we had to do it outside," Bordo said.
Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, where Khan attended, is hosting a memorial service on Sunday at 8 p.m.
Contact Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6508.