Relatives and friends of a Texas family shot dead in an apparent murder suicide over the weekend are remembering them as a "fun-loving, simple" clan known for their kindness, intellectual prowess and friendly nature.
Brothers Farhan Towid, 19, and Tanvir Towhid, 21, are believed to have systematically shot their mother, father, sister and grandmother in the family’s Allen home Saturday before taking their own lives in what Allen Police Sgt. John Felty described to Oxygen.com as a “tragedy beyond description.”
Allen Police discovered the bodies of all six early Monday morning after a concerned friend called the department to request a welfare check around 1 a.m. after seeing that Farhan had posted a disturbing suicide note on Instagram taking credit for the killings.
Police have identified the victims as Towhidul Islam, 54; Iren Islam, 56; Farbin Towhid, 19; and Altafun Nessa, 77, along with the two brothers. Farbin and Farhan had been twins.
Shawn Ashan, a close friend of Towhidul Islam for about 11 years, told The Dallas Morning News he learned of the deaths from a friend on Monday morning.
“I said, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” he told the paper. “I couldn’t breathe for 20 minutes to be honest with you, I was crying in my office.”
Towhidul had always been “proud” of his three children, Ashan said.
Sahnewaz Hossain, who got to know Iren Islam in a religious class they took together, similarly recalled the pride she had in her family.
“The mom always talked about the boys, how they’re good in studies, how they’re getting into good schools with scholarships,” she said. “Every time I would come home, I’d tell my kids how good they were doing. They were a fun-loving, simple family.”
Fazia Rahman graduated from Allen High School with Farbin and Farhan last year.
“Their parents were genuinely the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life,” Rahman told The Dallas Morning News. “So friendly, caring. … They treated everyone like they were their own kids. They’d be like ‘Come in, we have food for you, come eat.’”
Angelina Biswas, another fellow classmate, remembered Farbin as sweet and friendly.
“[She] was so bubbly,” Biswas said. “Talking to her was like a lightbulb going off all the time.”
Farbin had reportedly had a full scholarship to New York University.
Friends said Nessa had been visiting the family from Bangladesh and had planned to return home last week but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before moving to Texas, the family had lived in New York City while Towhidul earned his master’s degree and worked multiple jobs to support his young family.
Yuen Sang told The New York Post the family had lived in her Queens apartment building 15 years ago. She described the family as “such nice people” and said Towhidul had been a “wonderful man.”
“He is a gentleman, very good man, love(s) his family. Works very hard," she said, describing how he worked as a baker when she knew him and how he was "so happy" when he received his master’s degree.
But while Sang remembered young Farbin as being “very bright” and a “nice girl” she said Farhan had “some problems” even then and had gone to a special school.
Farhan alluded to his personal struggles in the lengthy note he posted on Instagram, describing how he failed out of college, had been cutting himself since the 9th grade and struggled with debilitating depression.
“He had some incidents lately that did not go well for him,” Felty said.
According to the note, the two brothers not only decided take their own lives, but also kill their family because they didn’t want their loved ones to have to live with the grief and sadness they’d likely experience after their deaths.
“If I killed just myself, they would be miserable,” Farhan wrote, according to local station KTVT. “I love my family. I genuinely do. And that’s exactly why I decided to kill them.”
But those who knew the family say they hope they're remembered for more than their tragic final moments.
“We don’t want this to be their family legacy,” Rahman told The Dallas Morning News. “They were such great people; they genuinely touched the lives of everyone who they came in contact with. … They were good people who had bright futures ahead of them.”