The Boston Marathon Bombing trial garnered a lot of media attention in recent days, in part, because the men suspected of committing the attack were Muslims and the attack itself bore earmarks of Islamic terrorism. Conversely, a deadly shooting that took place in Missouri almost four years ago involved a Muslim man as the alleged shooter but has received little news coverage beyond the Show-Me State.
Less than 48 hours before the 10th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, witnesses say then-25-year-old Mohamed H. Dawod shot to death Justin Hall, 32, of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, at a Greyhound bus station in Springfield, Mo. Soon after the shooting, Dawod found himself facing charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Almost two years of hearings and mental health assessments followed, and Dawod was committed to a mental institution to face mental evaluations every six months until he is deemed competent to stand trial or permanently committed.
Should Dawod face trial instead of remaining in a mental institution?
Some might claim Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old Boston Marathon bomber, was crazy when he participated in the plot that killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 others at the site of the famous footrace. Still, he was found guilty of multiple crimes, including murder, for his actions in concert with his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a shootout with police hours after the bombing.
Witnesses reported Dawod and his alleged victim were passengers on a bus traveling from Amarillo, Texas, but did not to know each other, and were preparing to board the bus for the last leg of the journey to St. Louis when the shooting took place.
Soon after the shooting took place, police officials in Missouri’s third-largest city were quick to label the incident involving the Glendale, Ariz., native as “random,” according to a Sept. 9, 2011, report in the Springfield News-Leader.
According to a local television report the same day, those same police officials said that, because of a language barrier, they had only learned Dawod’s name and had asked the FBI to help them with the investigation. Also in that report was this:
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.
Soon after the shooting, I wondered aloud whether the words Dawod reportedly shouted as he pointed his gun in the air could have been “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.” Unable to answer that question with certainty, I pointed readers to a same-day report in the Springfield News-Leader that contained more insight about the supposed “language barrier.”
Based largely on interviews with three people who were at the scene of the shooting, the article noted two observations I had made early on in my coverage of the case — that is, the shooter tried to fire again but could not because his gun jammed and witnesses believed the shooter intended to shoot several people. In addition, however, it noted that Patrick Beeman, Hall’s traveling companion, 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?’” In other words, he does speak English!
Because I haven’t seen any news coverage of the Dawod case since the report of Dawod being committed, I sent email messages to two people — Dawod’s defense attorney, Stuart Paul Huffman, and Greene County, Mo., Prosecutor Dan Patterson — this morning. In my message, I requested “as much detail as possible” about Dawod’s status.
As soon as I hear back from these men, I will provide an update in this space. Stay tuned.
UPDATE 5/15/2015 at 1:25 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.
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