Maryland native is killed after wounding jailers in Israel

U.S. Jewish teenager Samuel Sheinbein, 18, arrives at the Tel Aviv District Court in this March 22, 1999 file photo. Israeli police shot dead American-Israeli prisoner Sheinbein on February 23, 2014 after he wounded three guards with a pistol at a jail near Tel Aviv, police said. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Sheinbein, serving a 24-year sentence for a 1997 Maryland murder, had shot the three security officers, leaving one critically injured.

Israeli police shot dead a prisoner who was a native of Maryland after he wounded three guards with a pistol at a jail near Tel Aviv Sunday, police said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Samuel Sheinbein, serving a sentence for a 1997 Maryland murder, had shot the three security officers, leaving one critically injured.


Israeli security forces "returned fire and shot and killed the suspect," Rosenfeld said.

Israeli media said Sheinbein, in his early 30s, had barricaded himself inside a bathroom in his cell. It was not clear how he had obtained a weapon.


A Tel Aviv court in 1999 found Sheinbein guilty of the slaying and dismemberment of Alfredo Enrique Tello Jr. in Maryland's Montgomery County. The charred and dismembered corpse was found near the Sheinbein home in the Aspen Hill section of Wheaton.

He went on trial in Israel after having fled there and winning the protection of Israel's Supreme Court against a U.S. extradition request. The court based its decision on its determination that Sheinbein had inherited Israeli citizenship from his father.

Sheinbein's successful extradition fight, guilty plea to murder in an Israeli court and 24-year prison term — when he could have received up to life in prison if convicted in Maryland — strained U.S.-Israeli diplomatic ties, infuriated many in Montgomery County's Hispanic community and created a high-profile international case.

At the time, the Montgomery County state's attorney, Douglas F. Gansler, criticized the Israeli judge for failing to increase the sentence to life imprisonment. When he heard Sheinbein had died, Gansler, now the state attorney general, was shocked especially because Sheinbein was nearing the end of his 16-year jail sentence, which was to have been followed by presumptive parole.

"It's almost as if this was a suicide-type thing," Gansler said. "What comes to mind is the timing. He's served his entire jail sentence; he's about to get released, and then he goes on a suicide rampage."

Gansler maintains that Sheinbein should have been extradited. Gansler didn't know what type of mental health services are offered in Israeli corrections facilities, but he said Sheinbein would have had access to them during what would have been a life sentence in Maryland.

"The whole episode was tragic for so many families," he said. "He ended up shooting innocent people, killing innocent people — clearly he was a very troubled person."

Sheinbein's father, Sol Sheinbein, was disbarred in 2002 for his role in the case. Sol Sheinbein is a patent lawyer whose clients included American companies operating in Israel.


Shortly after the killing, Sol Sheinbein told a grand jury he agreed to tell police of his son's whereabouts if he heard from him. But the elder Sheinbein sent the teenager to Israel. He contended that the youth, in New York with his co-defendant, Aaron B. Needle, was suicidal and that he was trying to keep him safe and apart from Needle.

Needle, 18, returned home and hanged himself in his jail cell on the eve of his trial in April 1998.

The high-profile Sheinbein case spurred Israel's parliament to repeal its anti-extradition law — originally intended to protect Jews from anti-Semitic authorities. The lawmakers replaced it in 1999 with legislation that makes it easier to extradite Israeli citizens charged with committing crimes abroad.

The prison shooting comes during an overall rise in crime in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged at a cabinet meeting earlier this month that police step up efforts against a reported rise in gangland killings.