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Acquaintance: Roxbury fire suspect from Medford recited a litany of woes

Posted by Marcia Dick  October 17, 2011 04:48 PM

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A man who knew Mohamed Abdul Jabar, the young Medford man accused of igniting the six-alarm fire that injured 14 people in Roxbury this morning, says Jabar appeared troubled in recent days.

Adrian Barbosa, who owns the Walnut Market corner store, across the street from the building that burned, said he met Jabar several months ago and recently began talking with him. He last saw Jabar about Thursday or Friday, and Jabar looked disheveled.

“The last time I saw him he did not look good to me,” the storeowner said. “He told me he was not all right. He said he was having a lot of problems.”

Authorities said today a preliminary investigation suggested that Jabar, 28, set the fire in a failed suicide attempt. The fire broke out shortly before 1 a.m. today. Dozens of people are homeless because of the fire in the block-long, three-story apartment building on the block between Westeminster Ave., Waldren Road, Wardman Road, and Walnut Park.

Barbosa said that when he asked Jabar what was wrong, Jabar recited a litany of woes.

“He said everything was wrong. Can’t get any job, no money, can’t do anything,” Barbosa said. “But then he left because a lot of people were coming into the store. I told him we would talk later.”

Barbosa said he did not press his new friend, who bought a pack of Newport 100s and a gallon of Sunny D. Jabar was also looking to buy a prepaid phone card to call the UK, but Barbosa could not recall if he bought one.

“He looked like he got straight out of bed and came to the store. He did not look good,” Barbosa said.

Barbosa, who is from Cape Verde, said Jabar told him he was from Somalia. The two would catch up over news about Africa.

Barbosa said he was unsure if the younger man was married or had children. And he was not sure who he visited in Roxbury. But he said Jabar seemed weighed down by problems.

I don’t think he hates people,” said Barbosa, his eyes welling with tears. “I don’t think he’s a bad guy. He just had problems.”

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