International student killed in Saturday night auto incident

Hanawi's car sits at the Cookeville Police Department impound lot on Wednesday. Photo by David McMinn.

On Saturday, Oct. 18 around 3 a.m., Tennessee Tech student Mohammed R. Albadi was killed at the Magnolia Court apartments after he was struck by a car driven by Marwan Hanawi.

Albadi, a Saudi Arabian finance major, and Hanawi, another Saudi Arabian who was a former finance major, drove together to the Magnolia Court apartments in Hanawi’s car.

According to the police report, Hanawi, 20, left his parking space, drove to the other end of the parking lot and turned his vehicle around. Albadi, 22, stood in the middle of the road and waved his hands at Hanawi before he was hit by Hanawi’s Mustang. After hitting Albadi, Hanawi left the parking lot traveling west on 10th Street, turned around in the Regions Bank parking lot and returned to the apartments.

Officer Jimmy Blankenship was first to respond, answering a call about the hit-and-run.

“Upon my arrival, I observed a red Ford Mustang sitting in the entrance to the apartment complex facing south bound direction,” Blankenship wrote in his police report. “The car had substantial front end damage.”

Blankenship’s report said he saw someone lying on the pavement in front of the car and that two men were restraining Hanawi.

“As I approached them, they let the subject go and he got up to run away, I quickly gained control of the subject and then handcuffed him behind his back,” said Blankenship.

Blankenship called both Detective Sgt. Tim Terry and Cookeville Police Department traffic division for assistance. Hanawi was arrested and placed in Blankenship’s squad car.

Albadi was rushed to Cookeville Regional Medical Center and was pronounced dead upon arrival. Hanawi was also taken to CRMC for a blood alcohol content test after Blankenship reported smelling alcohol on Hanawi’s breath. After the test was completed, Blankenship took him to the Cookeville Police Department.

Hanawi was charged with criminally negligent homicide. According to, a person acts with criminal negligence when the person ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the alleged victim will be killed.

The requirement of criminal negligence is also established if it is shown the defendant acted intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, according to the Tennessee Code Annotated. Criminally negligent homicide is a Class E felony, punishable by imprisonment of no less than one year and no more than six years, as well as possible monetary fines of up to $3,000.

 “It is definitely an incident that I never expected to hear about, but the situation was handled very well,” said Courtney Smith, resident of Magnolia Court. “And our small neighborhood does not feel unsafe because of it.”

The TTU Saudi Club shared their thoughts on the club’s Facebook page in a memorial post for Albadi.

“We offer our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to the people of the late and herewith,” the post said.

Naif Alharbi, president of the Saudi Club, said he will visit Hanawi this weekend because of obligatory measures as club president despite Hanawi not being a member of the club.

“We all as Saudis here in Cookeville feel sorry for both of them,” Naif said in an email. “This rare kind of incident happening to young kids makes it harder on us.”

Albadi and Hanawi met each other three weeks prior to the murder.

“I will always remember his smile in my class,” said Jennifer Rideout, professor of English, in a comment on the post. Rideout said she had Albadi in one of her English composition classes in the past and remembered he always had a “pleasant personality in class.”

Hanawi is currently in custody at the Putnam County Justice Center without bond. He made his first appearance in court on Oct. 20.