Police - Man hit walkers with car on purpose

Thursday, April 15, 2004

FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. -- Police said a man in a white T-shirt and boxer shorts mowed down five pedestrians with stolen vehicles in separate hit-and-run incidents Wednesday, leaving a dying man pinned under the vehicle and another victim critically injured.

Police said the driver was arrested in central North Carolina after crashing a stolen truck. Abdullah El-Amin Shareef, 25, was charged with murder and taken to a state mental hospital.

Authorities said they had no information about a motive in the assaults, including one attack in which the driver beat a pedestrian after failing to run him over a second time.

"It looks like he pulled into neighborhoods looking for people," Fayetteville police Lt. Katherine Bryant said.

"He didn't stay on main streets."

The first victim was hit a few minutes after the theft of a van belonging to the city of Fayetteville, authorities said. No one saw the theft of the van, which had been left running by an employee, Bryant said.

David McCaskill said he was walking his two dogs when a van drove toward him on the wrong side of the street.

McCaskill, 65, said he tried to dodge the vehicle, but the driver "slammed the pedal to the floor and hit me with the left front fender," breaking his leg.

"He stopped, then put it in reverse and then tried to back over me," McCaskill said. The driver missed, but then got out of the vehicle and starting hitting McCaskill.

"I was holding my hands above my head trying to block him. I asked him, 'What have I done to you?' but he never opened his mouth," said McCaskill, of Fayetteville.

The attacker drove off when neighbors came out of their houses; McCaskill was treated and released at a hospital.

Over about two hours, the attacker appeared to deliberately run down pedestrians from Fayetteville, in Cumberland County, north to the Raleigh area, according to Fayetteville police and the state highway patrol.

The van was found in Cumberland County with Lonel Bearl Bass, 56, pinned under it. Bass, of Linden, was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Bass' son Scott said his father was hit outside hunting land he co-owned in rural Cumberland County, as he headed inside to feed dogs. The assailant stole his pickup truck, Scott Bass said.

"Why? Because if he wanted a truck he would have gave it to him," Scott Bass said. "He was just that good of a person. All the guy had to do was tell him."

Another hit-and-run victim, Gary Lee Weller, 55, was in critical condition at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. Police said a motorist found him lying in a Fayetteville road after being struck when the van went over a curb near a Fayetteville intersection.

Robert Fortier, hit in Cumberland County, and an unidentified victim in Harnett County suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, authorities said. The Harnett County victim was hit by the stolen truck, and the others were hit by the van, police said.

The attacker drove the stolen truck to Fuquay-Varina, about 20 miles southwest of Raleigh, where it struck another vehicle and landed in a ditch, police said.

The town's fire chief saw the man walking along a road, still wearing just his underwear. When police arrived, the suspect fled on foot and eventually was tackled in nearby woods, interim Fuquay-Varina police Chief Jerry Phillips said.

Shareef, whose last known address was in Raeford, was charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder charges and held without bond.

Shareef was transferred to a state mental hospital. Authorities would not comment on his mental condition but described him as uncooperative.

State police spokesman Everett Clendenin said Shareef has a history of motor vehicle violations, including citations for driving without a license and driving while impaired.

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