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Fiancee recalls love at first sight

| Saturday, June 11, 2005, 12:00 p.m.

When Amanda Milligan met Othmane Lahmamsi in college last year, it was love at first sight.

The pair's first date was at Aladdin's Eatery in Squirrel Hill, a place Lahmamsi picked so Milligan, 22, could get a taste of his Moroccan culture.

They were engaged within months and moved into an apartment in Crafton, where together they raised Milligan's daughter, Bella, now 14 months.

Plans were moving along for a July 20 beach-side wedding in Clearwater, Fla., and the future looked bright for the couple, despite their differing cultures and religions.

Then Milligan's world came crashing down.

Lahmamsi, 23, a Moroccan citizen who had been in the U.S. on a student visa for about six years, was gunned down Monday afternoon while sitting in a car with his cousin in the city's Larimer neighborhood.

A suspect in the slaying, David King, 20, was arrested Thursday in Atlanta on a criminal homicide charge.

King was captured without incident by authorities there, Pittsburgh police Cmdr. William Valenta said. He declined to say where Atlanta authorities found King.

Valenta also announced at a news conference yesterday that police were looking for a second suspect, Ronald Warrick, 24, who has addresses in East Liberty, Wilkinsburg and Penn Hills. Warrick, who is black, is about 5-foot-8-inches tall and weighs about 170 pounds, police said.

Lahmamsi was driving a car in the 6700 block of Auburn Street about 1:30 p.m. Monday when he was shot in the head. The car traveled about 60 feet after the shooting and crashed into a utility pole, police said.

Lahmamsi's cousin, also a Moroccan citizen with a U.S. student visa, was in the back seat at the time of the shooting. Police declined to identify the cousin, who was not hurt.

King and Warrick were in the car with Lahmamsi and his cousin, and the suspects fired two shots -- one from inside the car and one from outside, Valenta said.

Witnesses reported seeing two men fleeing in a 2003 silver Dodge Intrepid with a Pennsylvania license plate. Valenta said authorities in Georgia recovered the car when King was arrested. The Dodge was reported stolen from East Liberty shortly before the shooting.

Valenta wouldn't comment on a motive in the shooting but said it "definitely wasn't a random act.''

Lahmamsi's brother, Mohamed, arrived in Pittsburgh on Tuesday from Virginia, and he and other relatives flew Lahmamsi's body back to the Moroccan city of Fez for burial.

Milligan said she talked to Lahmamsi on his cell phone about 20 minutes before the shooting. He told her that he was leaving work at Fastlink, a telecommunications store in the East Liberty Mall, to get lunch. A short time later, Milligan said she had a "really bad feeling'' and called Lahmamsi's cell phone several times.

He didn't answer and she was leaving him a message when her call-waiting beeped. It was Lahmamsi's phone calling hers back, and she eagerly answered it.

"I expected it to be him, but instead it was a detective and she told me what happened,'' Milligan said yesterday, sobbing.

Bella, who called Lahmamsi "daddy,'' has been crying for him, Milligan said.

"I just keep hoping I'll wake up and he'll be here,'' she said. "We were so happy and so in love. It didn't matter that I'm a Christian and he's a Muslim. My family became his family and they accepted him completely. Our friends used to say we made them sick because we were so giddy around each other. We were just perfect for each other.''

Milligan said she's never heard of King or Warrick and didn't believe Lahmamsi knew the pair. She said a newspaper in Morocco has been reporting that Lahmamsi was a drug dealer, but she vehemently denied that.

"He would never, ever, subject myself and my child to drugs,'' she said. "He didn't smoke, hardly drank and never did drugs. He was just a really perfect, beautiful man who was working really hard to support us so that I raise our child.''

Milligan said Lahmamsi was taking classes at the Community College of Allegheny County, with plans to go to medical school. Milligan is in the nursing school program at CCAC, and the couple planned to wed again in Morocco next summer following their beach-side ceremony.

For now, Milligan is saving money to pay for a memorial service for Lahmamsi in Pittsburgh, and she's waiting for answers in his killing.

"I just don't understand,'' she said. "I still can't believe it. I'm just glad this wonderful man came into my life, and I was blessed to have him, even for a short time.''

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