Three years ago this week, Mohamed Dawod found himself charged with the murder of Justin Hall, 32, of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, at a Greyhound bus station in Springfield, Mo. As of today, he has not been prosecuted for his alleged role in the deadly shooting that took place less than 48 hours before the 10th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Whether or not terrorism was involved, however, remains up in the air to this day, thanks in part to officials in the Southwest Missouri community who were quick to say the shooting by the 25-year-old from Scottsdale, Ariz., appeared random, according to a report in the Springfield News-Leader. But was it really?
According to a Sept. 9, 2011, report on KSPR-TV, Springfield police said that, because of a language barrier, they only learned Dawod’s name and have asked the FBI to help them with the investigation. Also in that report was this telling paragraph:
Ten separate witnesses say they did not notice the men fighting or arguing before the shooting. One passenger said she watched the suspect wander around the terminal until the call to line up to re-board the bus. “She then observed the suspect remove a silver and black handgun from a back pack he was carrying,” the officer wrote. “The suspect then pointed the handgun upward while saying something. The witness could not understand what the suspect said and didn’t know if he was speaking English.” No matter what was said the witness said Hall didn’t react or turn around. Shortly after the witness says Dawod shot him from a few feet away.
Witnesses featured in two television news reports, however, seem to reveal more than the “official” story lets on about the deadly incident that involved a man with a Muslim name and Middle East appearance shooting someone he did not know less than 48 hours ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
The first television report, which aired on St. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK prior to any names being released or charges filed, featured witnesses saying it appeared the assailant would have kept shooting if not for the fact that his gun jammed. The second report, which aired on the same station after the Springfield Police Department announced the alleged shooter’s name and charges against him, offered much the same story.
Not surprisingly, Dawod pleaded not guilty during an arraignment Sept. 12, 2011. The extent to which Dawod would carry out some form of “legal jihad” — that is, causing the U.S. court system to waste as much time, effort and money as possible on his case — remained to be seen.
Could it be that, when Dawod pointed the handgun in the air, he shouted, “Alluh Akbar,” the cry that’s been heard coming from the mouths of so many Islamic extremists moments before they suffer from so-called “sudden jihad syndrome”? No answer to that question yet, so let’s fast-forward to a news report published Sept. 14, 2011, in the Springfield News-Leader.
Based largely on interviews with three people who were at the scene of the shooting, the article included two observations — that the shooter tried to fire again but could not because his gun jammed and that the witnesses believed the shooter intended to shoot several people. In addition, however, it noted that Patrick Beeman, a friend and traveling companion of the victim, said Dawod asked police a question in English after he was arrested: “He said, ‘if I quit shooting at people, can I get back on the bus?'” That, of course, made many wonder if he spoke and understood English after all.
On Sept. 25, 2011, it was revealed in another report — no longer online at NBC4i.com — that, in addition to a handgun, Dawod had a 9-inch knife and 37 rounds of ammunition when arrested.
Within 90 days of his arrest, Dawod was ordered by a judge to undergo psychiatric evaluations, and today, it seems, he remains “under observation.” Though I searched for updated information on CaseNet, the online site where one can typically find information related to civil and criminal cases, I could find no record of the Dawod case.
UPDATE: After publishing this piece, I came across an article in which it was explained Dawod had been committed to a mental institution and will likely be evaluated at six-month intervals to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.
UPDATE 5/15/2015 at 1:26 p.m. Central: Dawod has been declared incompetent to proceed with trial, according to Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson as reported in this article published Thursday. The next step? A probate court proceeding will take place and Keith Schafer, director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, will decide whether to move forward with either commitment or guardianship proceedings.