A would-be robber pretending to be a stranded motorist killed a Florida college student who had pulled his own weapon in self-defense during a gunfight in Alabama, authorities said.
Adam Simjee, 22, and his girlfriend, Mikayla Paulus — both students at the University of Central Florida — were driving through Talladega National Forest near Cheaha State Park when they were flagged down Sunday by suspect Yasmine Hider, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Hider said her car had broken down and when the victims offered their help, she “produced a gun and made the couple walk back into the woods,” according to the sheriff.
Simjee then pulled his concealed handgun and wounded Hider “multiple times” before he too was shot and then died at the scene, the sheriff said.
Paulus, who was not wounded in the shootout, called 911 and told authorities there was another woman with Hider. Searchers eventually found the suspects’ camp about a half-mile away, where they had been “living off the grid,” according to the sheriff’s statement.
That’s where police officers and deputies found second suspect Krystal Diane Pinkins and her young child.
“As officers were ordering the female to the ground a 5-year-old child ran from the woods holding a loaded shotgun,” the sheriff said. “Law enforcement told the child to put the shotgun down however the child continued to the female’s location before laying the gun on the ground.”
Pinkins, 36, remained in custody Friday, booked on suspicion of endangering the welfare of a child, murder, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery, jail records showed.
Hider was taken to a hospital in Birmingham and will eventually be jailed on suspicion of murder, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery, the sheriff said.
Clay County District Court Judge David Law on Wednesday issued a gag order, preventing both law enforcement and defense lawyers from commenting on the case.
His order also directed Clay County Sheriff Jim Studdard to scrub from social media any statements his office had previously made about the case.
Simjee was a finance major at UCF where he had been enrolled since last fall, a school representative said Friday. Paulus was about to embark on her first semester at UCF, pursuing her master’s degree in counselor education.