"It's painful to walk away from someone you once loved."
A photographer who opened up on social media about her divorce was shot dead in her Chicago apartment by her ex-husband in a suspected murder-suicide.
Police received a call for a welfare check on July 18, 2022.
Officers went to Sania Khan’s apartment at around 4:30 pm that day.
But when they arrived, they heard a gunshot and a man groaning.
Inside the property, officers found 29-year-old Sania dead near the door, having been shot.
Her ex-husband Raheel Ahmad was found in a bedroom with a head injury. A handgun was in his possession and a suicide note was discovered nearby.
He was transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
It was reported that Ahmad travelled from his home in Georgia to Chicago. His family had reported him missing.
Chicago Police were told that Ahmad and Sania were “going through a divorce”. He was depressed and travelled to her apartment “to salvage the marriage”.
Sania was a professional photographer who was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She moved to Chicago in June 2021.
She was previously a flight attendant.
On her website, Sania wrote: “I used to love travel so much that I was a flight attendant.
“My favourite layover was always Chicago and who would have known 2 years later I would have moved there?”
Sania was also active on TikTok, frequently talking about her marital struggles.
One post read: “It’s painful to walk away from someone you once loved. But it’s even more painful to love someone who is careless with your heart.”
In another post, Sania said: “Going through a divorce as a South Asian Woman feels like you failed at life sometimes.
“The way the community labels you, the lack of emotional support you receive, and the pressure to stay with someone because ‘what will people say’ is isolating.
“It makes it harder for women to leave a marriage that they shouldn’t have been in to begin with.”
Sania and Ahmad separated at the end of 2021.
According to friends, they divorced in May 2022.
It was reported that Sania was not on good terms with her parents because they did not agree with her decision to divorce her husband, despite him being abusive and toxic during the marriage.
People took to social media to pay tribute to the photographer.
One wrote: “Hearing about Sania Khan absolutely breaks my heart.
“Time and time again women in our community are subject to domestic violence and emotional abuse yet told to stick it out and stay in a miserable marriage due to the shame it would bring to the woman’s family.”
Kavita D’souza, of Chicago-based NGO Apna Ghar, said:
“Divorce is a stigma in not just South Asian families, but also at large for many communities.”
“Gender-based violence is about power and control – and that’s what unfortunately what we saw unfold on, Monday tragically.
“Lethality increases when somebody leaves a relationship, and the second time is when they get a divorce.
“It’s very tragic because she did what she could in her control and you cannot predict what’s going to happen or what an abuser’s going to do.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for funeral expenses.