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Yusef Abdullah RAHMAN






A.K.A.: "The Riverhead Sniper"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Long Island sniper shootings - Paranoid schizophrenic who believed that the shootings were military operations
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 5, 1988
Date of arrest: January 28, 1989
Date of birth: 1968
Victim profile: Bernard Timothy Heaney, 30
Method of murder: Shooting (.22-caliber rifle)
Location: Flanders, Suffolk County, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison in 1990

Was he aware of his actions?

By Carolyn Colwell - New York Newsday

Wednesday 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 Mentally Competent

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 indefinitely.

The shootings, over several days late last year, terrorized eastern Long Island.


Suspect fit for trial in sniping

By Don Smith and Phil Mintz - New York Newsday

Tuesday May 16, 1989

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 lawyer.

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 Shootings

By Eric Schmitt - The New York Times

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 city's suburbs.

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 14.

'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 this.''

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 they knew.

''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 weeks.

''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 victims attended.

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.''

Slaying in Southampton

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 made.

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 plea.

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.

No Connection

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.


SEX: M RACE: B TYPE: N MOTIVE: PC-nonspecific

MO: Shot men in random sniping attacks.

DISPOSITION: 42 years to life on one concurrent life term on second count, 1992.



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