Man arrested after Vermont probe is cited in New Jersey killing

PERTH AMBOY, N.J. — Back in November and December of 2015 Vergennes police and local citizens contributed to an investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of a New Jersey man on felony federal weapons charges.
On Oct. 30, shortly after his release from prison on those charges, Middlesex County, N.J., authorities are charging that man, Arun Aftab, 34, of Perth Amboy, with allegedly fatally shooting his sister.
According to an Oct. 30 press release from Middlesex County (N.J.) Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and Perth Amboy Police Chief Roman McKeon, Aftab was charged with murder, possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose in the shooting of Urooj Aftab, 32, of Perth Amboy.
According to the press release and Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel, Aftab was arrested that day by the Canadian Border Patrol as he was trying to enter Canada with a handgun. He is now being held in Canada and, according to officials, is expected to be returned to the U.S.
According to a journalist following the case in New Jersey, Daniel Mangan of CNBC, Aftab was sentenced to a one year on the weapons charges that followed the late 2015 investigation that began in Vergennes, and Urooj Aftab was murdered not long after her brother’s release. Mangan said Aftab is a Christian born in Pakistan.
Merkel expressed some frustration on hearing the allegations.
“We all did our part, and because of that he was arrested,” Merkel said. “But he got out of jail for whatever reason, and he killed his sister.”
Midmorning on Nov. 30, 2015, an employee of the Monkton Road branch of Merchants Bank alerted Vergennes police there were suspicious people outside the bank in a car.
Merkel responded and found Aftab and his mother, Ludvica Bukhsh, then 61, parked near the bank’s ATM, and saw it drive off. He followed, and when the car turned down the dead-end Armory Lane Merkel pulled alongside and asked if they needed help.
They said they were lost and wanted directions to New Jersey, which Merkel supplied. He then followed them through town, stopping them south of Vergennes because their car was weaving. Again, they said they were looking to return to New Jersey. Merkel repeated the instructions, noticing that Aftab appeared agitated and nervous, and they headed south.
He then spoke to bank employees about the suspects’ suspicious behavior there and contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Burlington. Soon Merkel learned the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) was tracking Aftab and Bukhsh and that they had been in Vergennes two days earlier.
JTTF also learned Aftab had been convicted of a felony in Texas for making false statements on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms form, and had been released on probation. Mangan this week said Aftab had been sentenced to time served, about five or six months, after failing to disclose he had been treated for mental health issues on his application for a gun permit. 
Thanks to bank security personnel in Vergennes and New York, Merkel learned Aftab and Bukhsh had not returned to New Jersey from Vergennes, but had gone into New York and withdrawn $1,000 from a bank account there.  
On Dec. 1 authorities learned Aftab and Bukhsh opened a bank account in Johnson, Vt., and Bukhsh signed a lease for an apartment in North Troy and obtained a Vermont driver’s license.  
On Dec. 1 they also stopped at the Powderhorn Gun Shop in Williston, where Bukhsh bought a shotgun and a handgun, and Aftab asked about assault rifles and tried to add a second handgun to his mother’s purchase, but was denied.
On Dec. 2, Aftab and Bukhsh went to Rack ’N Reel in New Haven, and Bukhsh bought a Glock pistol. While in the store, the two did not associate with each other, Merkel said.  
Rack ’N Reel contacted Vermont State Police in New Haven about Aftab and Bukhsh’s suspicious behavior. Merkel said both stores followed the law and were helpful to the investigation, during which he said officials concluded that Aftab, a felon not allowed to possess weapons, was trying to dodge detection while the guns were bought.
At least in part because of the Vermont investigation, in early December 2015 U.S. marshals arrested Aftab, 33. Authorities found guns and large knives in Aftab’s home and, when they arrested him in a car in which he was about to flee, Aftab also had ID cards and $35,000 in cash, according to Merkel.
Now, according to the Middlesex County press release, the investigation into Urooj Aftab’s death “is active and is continuing.”  
 In Vermont, Merkel said the case serves as a reminder to residents to call police if they see something that doesn’t seem quite right.
“This is the kind of guy, they float through our state, and most of the time we don’t know about them,” Merkel said. “There are dangerous people out there.”

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