Khalid Jabara was afraid of the man who lived next door.
The neighbor, 61-year-old Stanley Majors, had harassed Jabara’s family for years, making threats and mocking their Lebanese ancestry. In 2013, an Oklahoma court granted Jabara’s mother a protective order that required Majors to stop communicating with her and remain at least 25 feet away at all times.
Despite those restrictions, Majors didn’t let up: He told Jabara’s mother he was going to kill her, and later struck her with his car as she was walking in her neighborhood.
On August 12, Jabara called 911 and told the operator that he thought Majors had been knocking on his window. He wanted to register an anonymous complaint, apparently fearing how Majors might react upon learning that Jabara had contacted the police. With officers en route, Jabara dialed emergency dispatch a second time. During that call, he said Majors’s spouse told him that Majors had just hit him with a gun and fired it in the house. “Let them be warned,” Jabara said, referring to police.
The officers knocked on Majors’s door. But after nobody answered, they left. Eight minutes later, Jabara was gunned down on his front porch.
Majors is facing first-degree murder and hate crime charges for the highly-publicized killing, which police say he carried out with a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun that he wasn’t allowed to have.
The case has provoked questions about why police did not intervene more forcefully in advance of the shooting, given the toxic relationship between Majors and the Jabaras, and the existence of a protective order that explicitly barred Majors from possessing a gun. (Majors was already subject to a gun ban for at least one prior felony conviction).
There is still much that isn’t known about the chain of events that precipitated the fatal shooting. But interviews with law enforcement officials and legal experts, as well as a close examination of Oklahoma’s laws, reveal the fundamental weakness of legal mechanisms meant to protect families like the Jabaras from people who pose a clear threat — especially when it comes to identifying and confiscating firearms from people served with protective orders.
Authorities in Oklahoma can seize guns from defendants under protective orders, or judges can order firearms be turned over to a local sheriff’s office. In interviews, family law attorneys and police officials in the state said that gun relinquishment does occasionally happen, especially in instances where victims tell judges that they are specifically aware that the person they want served with the order has a gun.
Critics say this system is deeply flawed: It relies too much on victims’ often imperfect knowledge of their abuser’s gun ownership, and on the people served with orders to relinquish their guns as ordered. In stalking cases not involving intimate partners, it is even less likely that a victim knows whether someone has a gun, or many guns. In Jabara’s case, it doesn’t appear that the family was aware of Majors’s firearm until minutes before the fatal shooting.
“The state can pay lip service to the idea of preventing this kind of violence by issuing these orders, but they really need to put some teeth into it,” Lindsay Nichols, the senior attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, tells The Trace. “They really need to enforce it and make sure people who are subjected to these orders don’t have guns.”
Majors, a tall, heavy-set Los Angeles native with tousled white hair, was convicted in a California court of threatening a crime with intent to terrorize in 2009. Majors moved into the Jabara’s neighborhood in southern Tulsa a couple of years later, according to McClatchy. Police reports, court documents, and statements from the Jabaras lay out Majors’s campaign of degradation against the family. He called them “dirty Arabs,” “filthy Lebanese,” “Aye-rabs,” and “Mooslems,” the family said in a statement. (The family is Christian.)
The abuse prompted Jabara’s mother, Haifa, to ask a state court for the protective order. In the application, she said Majors harassed her with “ugly sex words over the phone” and was “very racist towards foreigners and blacks.” She checked a box requesting that Majors be forced to “surrender all firearms and other dangerous weapons.” But the lawyer who helped Haifa apply for the protective order told The Trace that he could not remember firearms coming up during subsequent court hearings, and the final order made no mention of weapons in Majors’s possession.
The same year that Haifa got the protective order, Majors was extradited back to California for a charge of violating his parole, according to the Los Angeles Times. Majors had returned to Oklahoma by late 2014, when he obtained a marriage license in Tulsa County.
Back living next to the Jabaras, Majors’s insults resumed. In March 2015, he was charged with violating the protective order after he told Haifa he wanted to kill her and hurled racial slurs at her in her driveway. Six months later, Majors hit Haifa with his Kia Rio. Haifa suffered a broken shoulder and injuries to her face and head. The police officer who arrested Majors found him stumbling and falling, and “actively urinating, without the use of his hands, through his open pants.”
He was charged with assault and — once again — with violating the protective order. He was jailed for eight months, then released on $60,000 bond. He returned home, next door to the Jabaras.
There is no evidence to suggest that authorities were aware that Majors had access to a gun before the day of Jabara’s killing. Police cannot search for firearms without probable cause.
Sgt. Shane Tuell, a spokesman for the Tulsa Police Department, said obtaining a search warrant would likely require a witness willing to testify that they had seen a gun in the possession of the person subject to the order.
“Once the shooting happened, then that’s when the Monday morning quarterbacks come out and say, ‘He did have a gun,’” Tuell said. “In this instance, we didn’t know that until it was too late, and we had done everything that we could have done.”
It is possible that even if police did find out about the gun in advance, they may have not been able to seize it. Sgt. Dave Walker, who oversees Tulsa’s homicide unit, said that Majors’s spouse told investigators after the shooting that the handgun was his.
There is nothing in the spouse’s history — such as a felony conviction or a restraining order — that would have prevented him from buying a gun, and there’s no reason to believe that the spouse had illegally obtained it, Walker confirmed. (Investigators are still waiting for the results of a trace request made to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Walker said.)
The last opportunity police had to potentially discover the handgun used to kill Jabara came when they responded to his 911 call. It is possible that if they had tried harder to obtain access to Majors’s home, they could have prevented the killing. But Veronica Laizure, the civil rights director for the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the officers’ options were limited.
They couldn’t have entered the home without a warrant or an indication that someone was in imminent danger, such as hearing screams or gunshots, she said.
After the police left, a third 911 call came in. This time it was Jabara’s frantic father, crying out that his son had been shot.
[Photo: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki]