Local News

Salvation Army worker: Hit-and-run suspect was coherent before crimes

Posted March 10, 2010 11:44 a.m. EST
Updated March 10, 2010 6:17 p.m. EST

— A Salvation Army worker testified on Wednesday that the man accused in a 2004 hit-and-run rampage across three counties appeared coherent the morning of the crimes.

Abdullah El-Amin Shareef, 31, of Raeford, is charged with murder and four counts of attempted murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him.

Authorities said Shareef stole a city-owned van in Fayetteville on April 14, 2004, hit and injured three men in Fayetteville, then ran over Lonel Bass in Linden, killing him. Shareef abandoned the van, took Bass' pickup truck and continued north, authorities said, running down another man in Harnett County before crashing the truck in Fuquay-Varina, where he was arrested.

Shareef has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his attorneys said he suffered from untreated paranoid schizophrenia.

Rashad Rahmaan, a mental health professional who is a friend of Abdullah Shareef's family, testified last week that he tried to get Shareef evaluated at a mental health facility in Hoke County, but the rampage occurred while Shareef was waiting for his appointment.

Shareef was placed at a Salvation Army in Cumberland County two days before the rampage because there was nowhere else for him to stay, Rahmaan said.

Salvation Army worker Dajuana Amerson said people at the shelter are required to leave by 7 a.m., but the morning of the rampage, Shareef came back between 7  and 8 a.m. because he said he forgot a shirt. Amerson said Shareef was peeping through the front window and darting back and forth through the parking lot.

In the days prior to the attack, Amerson said, she noticed a change in Shareef’s demeanor. On April 12, 2004, she said, Shareef left the shelter for the weekend to visit his wife and children. “He seemed distant and not really responsive,” she said Wednesday.

"He more or less stared off into space. He could look at me, but it was more like he wasn't looking at me. he was looking through me," she continued.

Amerson was among the rebuttal witnesses called by the prosecution.

Shareef told a judge on Wednesday that he did not want to testify on his own behalf.

Closing arguments will begin Thursday.