Normally the story of immigrant entrepreneur murdered in the USA would be immediately covered by every major corporate media outlet across the nation, since—logically—it would have been committed by some nativist, xenophobic white male mad about brown people taking jobs “Americans won’t do.”
In the case of Roman Kichigin, a 15-year-old white teenager who had a passion for his family and fixing up BMWs, his murder barely made news in Charlotte, his adopted hometown.
His family was from Kazakhstan, and they immigrated to the United States, where Roman was trying to sell the fourth BMW he had worked on rebuilding. His mom drove him to an apartment complex to show off the car to a potential buyer.
When they left, Roman would attempt to drive away (with his mother still in the car), having been shot.
He was murdered by Clifton Stanfill, an 18-year-old black male.
‘Full life ahead.’ 15-year-old boy shot, killed in Charlotte during robbery, CMPD says, Charlotte Observer, May 20, 2020]
Roman Kichigin was less than a month shy of his 16th birthday when he was killed.
Buying BMW cars, fixing them up and selling them at a higher price had long been Roman’s passion and he was looking forward to getting his driver’s license. Finally he would be able to drive one of his cars himself, without a parent in the passenger seat.
The day he was shot, Roman had been about to sell the fourth BMW he had worked on himself, his cousin Alex Kichigin told the Charlotte Observer on Tuesday.“He was going to drive to go see his girlfriend in Atlanta,” said family friend Mikhail Koval. “He was so looking forward to that.”
Roman died on Monday evening after being shot in an apartment complex parking lot on Briarhill Drive in northeast Charlotte, according to police. Koval said his family believes Roman was killed during an attempted armed robbery.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said officers arrested 18-year-old Clifton Stanfill on Tuesday. He’s been charged with murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, CMPD officials said. CMPD says the investigation is ongoing.
A car enthusiast and friend
Loved ones of Roman said that he was a caring, strong-spirited, brave Christian and looking forward to the rest of his life. He was in 10th grade at Union County Early College and had been hoping to get baptized after the coronavirus pandemic abated.
When the family moved to Charlotte from Semey, Kazakhstan in 2014, Roman — who was just 12 years old — helped out by taking care of his three younger siblings.
“Nobody asked him to do it but he would just cook something up if his parents were busy,” Koval said.
Koval met the Kichigin family when they first moved and helped them find an apartment and work out legal documents. He’s been close to the family and their relatives ever since, he said.
After the family moved, Roman bought his first BMW for $800, said his cousin Alex Kichigin, 19. It would be the first in a string of four BMWs that he would own and work on. Roman’s father, an auto body specialist, taught him how to work with cars in the garage, Koval said.
Roman’s obsession with BMW cars is a family one, his cousin said. It’s the only brand family members will own and at church, the family parks their BMWs in a line, he said.
Alex Kichigin says he and his younger cousin were inseparable.
It didn’t matter if they were racing Go Karts, going out for food, long boarding or going to car shows, they just wanted to be together, his cousin said.
“We trusted each other with everything,” Alex Kichigin said. ” … I don’t know anyone like that anymore”
Shooting in parking lot
The last car Roman had been working and intending to sell was a black-on-black BMW with “full bolts on” and the most expensive tires around, his cousin said.
“We threw a lot of money into our cars,” he said. “We didn’t mess around.”
The day Roman died, he was hoping to sell his car and made an appointment at the DMV, Koval said. Then, Roman had lunch with his father at his work place.
After, Roman and his mother went together to buy a phone, Koval said. They were meeting the seller, he said, and parked their car at the apartments on Briarhill.
Before he got out of the car to look at the phone, Roman gave his wallet to his mother, Koval said. His mother told Koval later there were two men in the parking lot waiting to meet Roman.
Shortly after, Koval said, Roman was shot. He attempted to drive away with his mother in the car, Koval said, and CMPD confirmed Roman was found injured inside the car, which had come to a stop on the side of the road. Roman’s mom, who was a pediatrician in Kazakhstan, attempted CPR before paramedics arrived, according to Koval.
Roman died later at the hospital, CMPD officials said.
Roman Kichigin is an immigrant story to the USA you’ll read about perhaps only here.
How he lived and how he died will be a tale told to only a few, because he was murdered by a black male in Charlotte, North Carolina.
He was a young white man, trying to build find his own slice of the American dream; unfortunately, his final moments on earth were being introduced to the American nightmare.
His name is Roman Kichigin.