A.K.A.: "The Riverhead Sniper"
Characteristics: Long Island sniper shootings
Paranoid schizophrenic who believed
that the shootings were military operations
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder:
of arrest: January 28,
Date of birth: 1968
Victim profile: Bernard
Timothy Heaney, 30
Method of murder:
Location: Flanders, Suffolk County, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison in 1990
Was he aware of his
By Carolyn Colwell - New York Newsday
September 26, 1990
The man accused of being the
"Riverhead sniper" knew what he was doing when
he shot four men in the winter of 1988,
according to the prosecution's opening arguments
in his trial yesterday in Riverhead.
But the defense contended
that Yusef Abdullah Rahman, 21, was suffering
from the delusions of a paranoid schizophrenic
when he fired those shots and believed that he
was on a military combat mission with Tall Man,
Radio Man, Blaster and five other soldiers.
Rahman is on trial in Suffolk
County Court on charges that he murdered Bernard
Timothy Heaney on Dec. 5, 1988, outside his
auto-body shop in Flanders, shot Richard Jensen
in the head on Dec. 6, 1988, by firing through
the window of Jensen's house, shot Theodore
Squires in the right shoulder after he answered
a knock on his door on Dec. 7, 1988, and shot
Donald Crump in the chin on Dec. 8, 1988, as he
sat in his living room. Rahman is also charged
with shooting at a Southampton Police officer on
Jan. 1, 1989.
In his opening arguments
yesterday, Assistant District Attorney Randall
Hinrichs said that the videotaped statement that
Rahman gave police clearly shows that Rahman
knew what he was doing, knew what the
consequences of his actions were, and knew it
was wrong. "To do what he did, this defendant
obviously had problems," Hinrichs said.
But that does not mean,
Hinrichs added, that Rahman should be found not
responsible by reason of a mental disease or
defect. He advised the jurors that they will be
"reaching a verdict in this case. You don't come
back with a diagnosis." Rahman's defense
attorney, Eric Naiburg, said that expert
testimony will show that his client is suffering
from paranoid schizophrenia and therefore should
be found not responsible by reason of mental
disease or defect.
Naiburg said that as a 20-year-old
Rahman played with toy soldiers and was obsessed
with military things. He said Rahman believed
that the shootings were military operations.
Sniper Suspect Ruled
The New York Times
Thursday, May 25, 1989
A man who believes he is a
Rambo-like commando is mentally competent to
stand trial for the Long Island sniper shootings
that killed one man and injured three others, a
judge ruled yesterday.
Two court-appointed psychiatrists have said the
defendant, Yusef Abdullah Rahman, 20 years old, is a paranoid
schizophrenic who claims to hear orders over a military radio and is not
competent to stand trial.
But both the prosecutor and a defense lawyer wanted
Mr. Rahman to be tried and asked Judge Harvey Sherman of Suffolk County
Court to allow further evaluation. After hearing from more doctors,
Judge Sherman issued the ruling.
An assistant district attorney, Timothy Mazzei,
wanted Mr. Rahman tried so he could be found guilty. The defense lawyer,
Eric Naiburg, wanted Mr. Rahman tried so he could be found not guilty by
reason of insanity.
If found not guilty by reason of insanity, Mr. Rahman
would likely be hospitalized and then released when he recovered. Had he
been ruled incompetent, he could have been put in a mental hospital
The shootings, over several days late last year,
terrorized eastern Long Island.
Suspect fit for trial in
By Don Smith and Phil Mintz -
New York Newsday
Two psychiatrists testified
yesterday that Yusef Abdullah Rahman, the
suspect in a series of East End sniping attacks,
quickly convinced them he was competent to stand
trial after he overcame his initial reluctance
to be quizzed by making a phone call to his
The doctors, testifying
before Suffolk County Court Judge Harvey Sherman,
also said that two court-appointed doctors, who
concluded Rahman was a paranoid schizophrenic
not competent to stand trial, did not understand
the law nor the narrow legal area - competency
to understand the charges and assist in a
defense - that they had been asked to consider.
The doctors who testified yesterday had been
retained by the prosecution.
Sherman held the hearing to
determine whether Rahman is competent to stand
trial. Rahman is charged with the murder of one
man and the wounding of three others in the
Riverhead-Southampton area during December. He
also is charged with reckless endangerment for
allegedly shooting at a Southampton Town police
car on New Year's Day.
The prosecution's doctors,
Seymour Block and Allen Reichman, both said
yesterday that Rahman's account of voices over a
military radio ordering him and some
unidentified others to kill and shoot people
might be of great help to his court-appointed
lawyer, Eric Naiburg, in putting together an
insanity defense for the trial.
L.I. Suspect Sought in Five Midwest
By Eric Schmitt - The New
January 31, 1989
People here who know Yusef
Abdullah Rahman, the 20-year-old man charged
Sunday in five sniper attacks in two eastern
Long Island towns, describe him as a quiet,
playful man who was devoutly religious. But to
the police in the Middle West, Mr. Rahman was
known as a devious, methodical killer.
''There is some indication
that he wanted to kill all the drug dealers in
Kansas City.'' said Sgt. Pete Edlund of the
Kansas City (Mo.) Police Department. A warrant
was issued for Mr. Rahman's arrest for the fatal
execution-style shooting of a youth in August
1987. ''The detectives here called him Rambo
because he was a survivalist,'' said Sergeant
Edlund, who said that Mr. Rahman, known in
Kansas City as Joseph Davis, lived for about two
years in a shack in the woods in one of the
Sergeant Edlund said that Mr.
Rahman was well known to the police in Kansas
City. He said that Mr. Rahman, who also faces
auto theft charges in the Kansas City area, was
wanted for questioning in four other fatal
shootings that occurred in the Kansas City area
between July 28, 1987, and July 31, 1987.
The accusations carry a
haunting ring. On Long Island, Mr. Rahman has
been charged with five shootings, four of which
occurred on consecutive nights, that left one
man dead and three others wounded.
The Suffolk County police
said that Mr. Rahman told them that in three
telephone calls he made to the police, in which
he said the shootings were part of a vendetta
against ''drug dealers and crooked cops,'' he
had been trying to mislead the authorties. The
Suffolk police said there was no evidence that
the shootings were drug related.
The police linked Mr. Rahman
to the sniper attacks through a resident of Old
Quogue Road in Southampton who reported to his
neighbor that he had seen Mr. Rahman in the
neighbor's car. The neighbor checked his car to
see if anything had been stolen and found a
sawed-off shotgun and a cut-down rifle in it,
the police said. That neighbor then called the
police, who conducted ballistics tests on the
weapons and found that the rifle in the car
matched the one used in two of the shootings.
The police arrested Mr. Rahman based on the
description from the neighbor.
In written and videotaped
statements to the Suffolk police, Mr. Rahman,
investigators said, fashioned himself as a
commando on wheels, wearing a bulletproof vest
and military-like clothing, and touting his
weapons - a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun and a cut-down
.22-caliber rifle - as he bicycled around
neighborhoods in Riverhead and Southampton
Township, looking for someone to shoot. In his
statement, Mr. Rahman said he had practiced mock-combat
maneuvers since he was 6 years old, and bought
his gun - a .357 Magnum revolver - when he was
'Wanted to Shoot Someone'
''I don't know why I shot
this man,'' Mr. Rahman said in what the Suffolk
police said was a signed statement describing
the third shooting, on Dec. 7. ''I just wanted
to shoot someone.'' Mr. Rahman was arrested more
than a month after the first attack occurred. In
that attack, on Dec. 5, the operator of an
automobile repair shop was shot to death in
Southampton with a .22-caliber rifle. In the
next three days, there were other attacks on
people. The fifth attack occurred shortly after
midnight on New Year's Eve when a Southampton
Town police officer was shot at in his car as he
responded to a report of a traffic accident that
turned out to be fake.
Since last August, Mr. Rahman
had lived with Barbara and Jerry Nelson in
Riverhead. Mrs. Nelson said today that Mr.
Rahman lived with them rent-free as a favor to a
friend of her husband. In his statement, Mr.
Rahman said Mr. Nelson was his uncle, but Mrs.
Nelson denied that. Mr. Rahman worked as a
potato packer for a couple of months for the I.M.
Young Company in Cutchogue.
'Always Around Playing'
''He was extremely quiet,''
said Mrs. Nelson, who said Mr. Rahman was a
devout Muslim. ''I knew nothing about any of
To acquaintances along Old
Quogue Road, where Mr. Rahman said he stored his
weapons in his grandfather's garage, the image
of a ruthless sniper did not fit the quiet man
''He was always around here
playing with kids younger than he was,'' said
Jerry Nelson, of Southampton, who said he was a
cousin of Mr. Rahman's. ''He was a nonviolent
guy. He didn't smoke. He didn't drink. He didn't
do nothing like that.''
''He was the sweetest kid,''
said Hattie Crump, who also knew Mr. Rahman.
'A Sigh of Relief'
In other parts of Riverhead
and Southampton, residents said they were
relieved that the police had a suspect in the
shootings that had terrified the community for
''We're all breathing a sigh
of relief,'' said Audrey Stupke, principal of
the Phillips Avenue School in Riverhead that two
children and the nephew of one of the shooting
For the surviving shooting
victims, who had fallen under some suspicion
after Mr. Rahman's calls to the police warning
of his vendetta against drug dealers, the arrest
was particularly meaningful.
''One of the hardest things
was going through the accusations and knowing I
wasn't a part of them,'' said Richard Jensen, a
34-year-old carpenter who had one finger on each
hand amputated after he was hit with a shotgun
blast through his living room window on Dec. 6.
''Then again, I just feel lucky I'm alive.''
Suspect Held in 5 L.I.
Sniper Attacks That Left One Man Dead
The New York Times
A 20-year-old man was charged today in five sniper
attacks on eastern Long Island that left one man dead and three other
people wounded, and created fear among residents of two towns, the
Suffolk County police said.
The man, who was identified as Yusef Abdullah Rahman
of 60 Fanning Street in Riverhead, L.I., was arrested Saturday in
Wyandanch, six days after several weapons were found in a car in
Southampton and linked to him and the sniper attacks, the county police
said. He was ordered held today without bail in the Suffolk County Jail
in Riverhead. His arrest brought relief to residents and officials of
Riverhead and Southampton, where people feared going out at night or
sitting near windows in their houses.
''He's a bad boy,'' said Chief Lawrence Grattan of
the Riverhead Town Police. ''It's an enormous relief.''
His arrest comes more than a month after the first
attack occurred. In that attack on Dec. 5, the operator of an automobile
repair shop was shot to death in Southampton with a .22-caliber rifle.
That shooting was followed by attacks on people over the next three days.
The fifth attack occurred shortly after midnight on New Year's Eve when
a police officer was fired upon as he answered a traffic call that
turned out to be fake.
In four of the five attacks, the sniper randomly
chose his victims and, in three instances, he fired at their heads after
peeking into a window in their houses after dark.
In a two-hour video-taped statement to the Suffolk
police in which he detailed the attacks, Mr. Rahman said he fired at a
Southampton police car to revive the attention the four earlier
shootings drew, the police said today.
In that shooting, a bullet struck the post on the
left side of the windshield, narrowly missing a police officer answering
a false report of a traffic accident that the police said Mr. Rahman
The police said that Mr. Rahman, who said he liked to
carry weapons and wear military-like clothing and a bulletproof vest,
rode a bicycle to the attacks. He was armed with a sawed-off shotgun and
a cut-down .22-caliber rifle. He also carried a knife that was strapped
to his leg.
Edward Jablonski, the chief of the homicide bureau of
the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, said Mr. Rahman had a
strong interest in the military and wanted to join the Army. ''He had a
fantasy about being a soldier,'' said Detective Sgt. George Horvath of
the Suffolk police homicide squad, who headed a task force assigned to
find the sniper.
Mr. Jablonski said that Mr. Rahman also told the
police that he committed three murders in Kansas City, Mo. A spokesman
for the police in Kansas City, Mo., said a warrant was issued for Mr.
Rahman's arrest for the execution-style shooting of a youth in August
1987. No information was immediately available on the other two slayings,
the spokesman said.
Mr. Rahman, who was charged with two counts of second-degree
attempted murder in Riverhead, told reporters in a barely audible voice
during his arraignment in the Riverhead Town Justice Court, ''I'm sorry.''
Arraigned on Murder Charges
Mr. Rahman, wearing acid-dyed jeans, a blue-and-white
sweater and black shoes, rocked slowly from side to side with his head
down as Town Justice Gregory R. Manning read the charges. Earlier in the
day, Mr. Rahman was arraigned in Southampton Town Justice Court on
charges of second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder and
first-degree reckless endangerment in the other three incidents.
The justices ordered him held without bail. Mr.
Rahman, who was not represented by a lawyer in court, did not enter a
The police said there was no evidence that the
shootings were drug related. The police said that Mr. Rahman told them
that in three telephone calls he made to the police, in which he said
the shootings were part of a vendetta against drug dealers and dishonest
police, he had been trying to mislead the authorities.
The First Attack
In the first attack, Bernard Heaney of South
Jamesport was shot to death at his automobile shop on Flanders Road in
Southampton by a gunman firing repeatedly from the woods. Mr. Heaney had
been going to the aid of his dog, which had also been shot.
On Dec. 6, Richard Jensen, a carpenter, was wounded
by a shotgun fired through his window as he sat watching television in
his home on Lincoln Street in Riverhead. The blast tore away the middle
finger on both his hands, which were clasped behind his head.
The next evening, Theodore Squires, a sign painter,
was shot through the window of his house on nearby Ostrander Avenue in
Riverhead shortly after he answered a knock on the door and found no one
there. He was wounded in the shoulder. The police said the weapon was
the same shotgun fired at Mr. Jensen.
And on Dec. 8, an acquaintance of Mr. Rahman's,
Donald Crump, was shot in the jaw with a .22-caliber bullet as he sat in
his home in the Flanders section of Southampton Town.
The police said they could find no connection between
the four men.
In the days after the shootings, there were rumors
that the incidents were connected, and that the sniper was choosing his
targets for a purpose.
The police said the case began to unfold on Jan. 22
when a resident of Old Quogue Road in Southampton told the state police
that he found a cut-down .22-caliber rifle and a sawed-off shotgun in a
car he was storing. The weapons were given to the task force.
Within a day, the police said, the Suffolk County
crime laboratory had confirmed that the rifle was identical to the one
used to kill Mr. Heaney and wound Mr. Crump. The police traced the
weapons to Mr. Rahman and began a search for him that ended Saturday at
4 P.M. in Wyandanch. The police would not say how they were able to link
the weapons to Mr. Rahman.
Mr. Rahman, who the police said was also known as
Joseph Davis and as Yussuf Amin, grew up in Brooklyn and lived for a
time in Kansas City.
''It is clear that Yusef Rahman fancied himself a
commando or a member of a SWAT team in these events,'' a police release
issued today said.
M RACE: B TYPE: N MOTIVE: PC-nonspecific
Shot men in random sniping attacks.
42 years to life on one concurrent life term on second count, 1992.