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UCF student killed in shootout with robber in Alabama woods

Adam Simjee, 22, was shot to death in the Talladega National Forest near popular Cheaha State Park in east Alabama.
Adam Simjee, 22, and Mikayla Paulus, 20, were hiking in Cheaha State Park Sunday when they were robbed at gunpoint and Simjee was fatally shot.
Adam Simjee, 22, and Mikayla Paulus, 20, were hiking in Cheaha State Park Sunday when they were robbed at gunpoint and Simjee was fatally shot. [ CAROL ROBINSON | CROBINSON | al.com ]
Published Aug. 17

ASHLAND, Ala. — A Florida college student exploring the Alabama wilderness with his girlfriend was fatally wounded during a shootout with a would-be robber who appeared to be living with others in the woods, authorities said.

Adam Simjee, 22, was shot to death in the Talladega National Forest near popular Cheaha State Park in east Alabama on Sunday, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Tuesday. Yasmine Hider and Krystal Diane Pinkins were charged with murder, kidnapping and robbery, the statement said.

Wounded several times during the confrontation, Hider was awaiting transfer to jail from a Birmingham hospital where she underwent surgery for her wounds. Pinkins, 36, was jailed.

The couple was driving on a National Forest Service road when Hider flagged them down and asked for help with her car, sheriff’s officials said. The woman then pulled out a gun and ordered them into the woods, they said.

Simjee pulled out a pistol he was carrying and shot Hider several times, but he also was hit and died at the scene. Hider called out for help and Pinkins emerged from the forest before fleeing, authorities said.

Simjee died despite the efforts of his girlfriend, 20-year-old Mikayla Paulus, who was performing CPR on him when authorities arrived, the statement said.

Adam Simjee, 22, and Mikayla Paulus, 20, were hiking in Cheaha State Park Sunday when they were robbed at gunpoint and Simjee was fatally shot.
Adam Simjee, 22, and Mikayla Paulus, 20, were hiking in Cheaha State Park Sunday when they were robbed at gunpoint and Simjee was fatally shot. [ CAROL ROBINSON | CROBINSON | al.com ]

Authorities using a dog tracking team and a state police helicopter found a camp where they saw Pinkins, whose 5-year-old son ran from the woods with a loaded shotgun as officers were arresting her, sheriff’s officials said.

No more shots were fired, and Pinkins was taken to the Clay County jail. Her son was taken by child welfare workers, and Pinkins was charged with endangering the welfare of a child in addition to the other counts.

The women may have been living “off the grid” in the National Forest, the sheriff’s statement said, and forestry workers dismantled their camp.

“I lost the love of my life,’’ Paulus, who was not injured, said in an interview with AL.com. “This will be with me forever.”

Simjee and Paulus were getting ready to begin the school year at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, she told the news site. “We were starting school on Monday, so we wanted to do one last road trip,’’ she said.

Court records did not show whether Hider or Pinkins, who had an address in Memphis, Tennessee, had an attorney who could speak on their behalf.

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