Mysteries Remain Over Rimonim Prison Shooting

Attorney says convicted murderer Samuel Sheinbein was sending 'cries for help' for weeks; wounded officers, prisoner recovering.

Tova Dvorin ,

Prison (illustrative)
Prison (illustrative)

The parents of US-Israeli murderer Samuel Sheinbein, who was killed Sunday by police forces after he shot and wounded three guards outside Rimonim prison in central Israel, spoke to the press for the first time Monday about the incident. 

"We wish all of the injured a speedy recovery," the Sheinbeins stated, in a note passed to a Walla! News correspondent. "We express deep regret and shock at this turn of events." 

On September 16, 1997, Sheinbein and Aaron Benjamin Needle, a former classmate at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Aspen Hill, Maryland, killed Alfredo Enrique Tello Jr.. They then dismembered and burned his body. 

Sheinbein escaped extradition by claiming Israeli citizenship through his father. He pleaded guilty to killing Tello in an Israeli court in 1999. He was serving a 24-year sentence in Israel but could have faced life in prison if tried in the United States. 

'Cries for Help'

According to Walla!, Sheinbein's prison sentence was not marked by any problems until now. He was considered an "experienced" prisoner with good behavior - enough to be let out for short stints of freedom, as is customary in certain cases in the Israeli prison system - and was even eligible for a reduction in his prison sentence by eight years for good behavior. 

Authorities remain mystified as to what set off Sheinbein's outburst. One theory is that the shooting was a misguided cry for help. 

"I suppose he felt threatened," Sheinbein's attorney, Orit Hiyon, noted. Hiyon cited his good behavior and added that he was more or less a "normal" prisoner throughout his sentence at Rimmonim. "But recently he was beginning to show signs of distress," she added. 

Two weeks ago, Sheinbein left on another "vacation" from jail - but this time, it did not end well. The prisoner met with an arms dealer in Tel Aviv to stock up on weapons and was later caught trying to snatch a rifle from him. An indictment was issued against Sheinbein over the incident. 

Then, Sheinbein called Hiyon Sunday before the shooting and had anything but a routine conversation with her, according to the daily. Hiyon declined to reveal exactly what was said, but noted that he sounded "stressed" and reflected that it might have been a farewell. 

Wounded Still Recovering

Details have also emerged Monday about the men injured in the attack. 

Bisan Hilal, the officer wounded critically in the attack, is recovering slowly, according to Walla!. Hilal regained consciousness overnight and spoke with his doctors; his condition is still serious, however. Hilal underwent emergency surgery overnight at Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba for blood clots and and accumulation of fluids in his chest. 

The other two injured, who are not named, are also on the mend. The 40 year-old officer reported yesterday in moderate condition is improving, though he is still in moderate condition; a prisoner who was shot in the leg during in the attack was released early Monday. Sheba Hospital in Tel HaShomer is also treating a SWAT agent who suffered injuries to his hands.