American Killed in Israeli Prison Shooting Rampage - The Jewish Voice
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American Killed in Israeli Prison Shooting Rampage

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Samuel Sheinbein appears in a Tel Aviv court in 1999.
Samuel Sheinbein appears in a Tel Aviv court in 1999.
A notorious American-Israeli prisoner who was killed in shootout after opening fire on prison guards did so with a weapon that was smuggled into jail, Israeli police said on Monday, February 24.

Police initially said that Samuel Sheinbein had stolen a gun from one of his guards prior to being shot dead by special forces at Rimonim Prison on Sunday evening. But police spokeswoman Luba Samri said an investigation has revealed that the weapon was in fact brought into the prison from the outside.

Israel Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told CNN that Sheinbein, 34, shot at the guards from inside the prison’s restrooms, Weizman said. Two of them were seriously wounded, and the third sustained minor injuries, she said.

The investigation is continuing in order to determine the circumstances behind the drama that unfolded at a jail in central Israel — the first known case in the country of an inmate opening fire inside a secured compound, according to Vosizneias.

The shooter, Sheinbein, had fled from the U.S. to Israel after murdering and dismembering a Maryland man in 1997, according to numerous reports. Sheinbein had gained Israeli citizenship through his father prior to fleeing the U.S.

Prosecutors accused Sheinbein and accomplice Aaron Needle of picking up Tello from work in Silver Spring, Maryland, and deciding to kill him, CNN reported. They strangled him with a rope, struck him on the head with a blunt object and slashed him. Two days later, prosecutors said, they dismembered the victim and burned his body, according to CNN’s account.

After fleeing to Israel, Sheinbein admitted to the dismemberment and burning of the victim. But he blamed the actual murder on Needle. CNN reported that Needle was arrested in the murder but hung himself while in prison.

At the time of the murder Sheinbein was just 17 and would have faced a possible life sentence in Maryland, where the crime occurred. His extradition to Maryland was blocked after a yearlong battle between Israel and America due to an Israeli law that prohibited extradition to the U.S. The Israeli Supreme Court had ruled that Sheinbein could not be extradited to the United States.

Vosizneias reported that, following the extradition battle over Sheinbein, Israel changed its laws to allow the extradition of Israeli citizens in the future, but on the condition that they are returned to Israel to serve any sentence imposed.

Before being shot and killed in the prison on Sunday, Sheinbein had injured seven people: three prison guards, three special forces fighters and one fellow prisoner. One of the guards was still in critical condition Monday, according to CNN.

According to Sheinbein’s lawyer, Orit Hayoun, Sheinbein had been under “duress” and she had spoken to him minutes before the rampage began. She said Israeli prison authorities ignored her warnings and that the tragedy could have been averted had they listened to her. Israeli media reported that Sheinbein has previously tried to kill himself in prison, according to Vosizneias.

Samri, the police spokeswoman, said that while on prison furlough two week ago Sheinbein was caught trying to steal a gun. And just a few days ago, he was issued an indictment for that attempted theft.

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