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Police: US killer shot guards with smuggled gun

Monday - 2/24/2014, 10:00am  ET

File - In this July 5, 1999 file photo, Samuel Sheinbein, accused of the 1997 murder of Alfredo Tello Jr., in Maryland, is brought in handcuffs to a Tel Aviv court. Israeli special forces raided a prison in central Israel on Sunday, killing one of the country's most notorious inmates after he seized a guard's weapon, shot three guards and barricaded himself inside the compound. Police identified the inmate as Samuel Sheinbein, an American who fled to Israel after committing a gruesome murder in Maryland in 1997 and whose case sparked a high-profile row between the two allies.(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

ARON HELLER
Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) -- A notorious American-Israeli prisoner who was killed in shootout after opening fire on prison guards used a weapon that was smuggled into jail, Israeli police said Monday.

Police at first said that Samuel Sheinbein stole a gun from one of his guards before special forces shot him dead Sunday. But police spokeswoman Luba Samri said an initial investigation revealed that the weapon was actually brought in from the outside.

Investigations are underway 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.

The case also generated great interest because of the identity of the shooter.

Sheinbein, who was 34, fled from the U.S. to Israel after murdering and dismembering a Maryland man in 1997. He gained Israeli citizenship through his Israeli father shortly before fleeing the U.S.

Sheinbein, was tried in Israel in 1999, and sentenced to 24 years for his slaying and dismemberment of 19-year-old Alfredo Enrique Tello Jr.

Sheinbein was 17 at the time of the killing and could have faced a life sentence in Maryland. His extradition to Maryland was blocked after a yearlong battle between Israel and the United States over an Israeli law that prohibited it.

Following that embarrassment, Israel changed its laws to allow the extradition of Israeli citizens on condition that they are returned to Israel to serve any sentence imposed.

Before being shot and killed, Sheinbein managed to injure seven people: three prison guards, three special forces fighters and one fellow prisoner. One of the guards was still in critical condition Monday.

Sheinbein's lawyer, Orit Hayoun, said she spoke to Sheinbein minutes before the rampage and noticed he was under duress. She said Israeli prison authorities ignored her warnings and could have averted the tragedy if they had taken her seriously. Israeli media reported that Sheinbein has previously tried to kill himself in prison.

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


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