FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — People who know a man accused of stealing two vehicles and running over five pedestrians Wednesday said he has dealt with a number of tragedies in the last few months.
Abdullah Shareef is at Dorothea Dix Hospital facing one murder charge and four charges of attempted murder. Authorities said Shareef, who has a long criminal record and history of mental illness, actually sought out his victims, but neighbors said they rarely saw Shareef in person.
"I would see him every now and then," neighbor Victor Singletary said. "I didn't know him too well. I would see him outside or whatever like that."
A few months ago, Shareef's family lived in a Raeford house, not far from downtown, before it was destroyed by a fire.
According to the imam of the Fayetteville mosque where the family used to worship, Shareef's family had a rough few months around the time of the fire. Apparently, Shareef's mother suffered smoke inhalation that day and eventually died.
Around the same time, Shareef's father had heart bypass surgery. Neighbors also said Shareef was in the middle of a divorce.
Neighbors said Shareef's father tried to get him help, but no one listened.
According to the imam, Shareef's father tried to get his son counseling. Shareef, who recently had been living in a shelter in Fayetteville, has a history of prior criminal violations, including a DWI and driving with a revoked license in 1998 and a speeding violation in 2003.