Clay County, AL – A Florida college student was murdered on Sunday after he and his girlfriend stopped to help a woman who pretended to be stranded on the side of an Alabama highway.
The incident began on the morning of Aug. 14 when Adam Simjee and Mikayla Paulus were on a road trip to Mount Cheaha before they were scheduled to start classes together at University of Central Florida next week, WBMA reported.
The couple were driving along National Forrest Service Road 600-3 in Talladega National Forest near Cheaha State Park when they saw two women broken down on the side of the road, AL.com reported.
Paulus said she and Simjee debated what to do but ultimately stopped to try and assist the stranded traveler, WBMA reported.
“He had just bought this huge battery pack and made sure that we charged it the night before,” she recalled.
Paulus is the daughter of a mechanic and she her boyfriend worked on the woman’s car for an hour but failed to get it started, WBMA reported.
“I called my dad, watched some YouTube videos, and tried to fix the car,’’ the 20 year old explained. “When we realized it couldn’t be fixed, I asked if she needed anything else.”
“She [Hider] pulled a gun, said ‘put your hands up, walk into the woods and drop your phone and keys,’’’ Paulus recounted.
Paulus said the armed woman – later identified by authorities as Yasmine Hider – ordered them to give her their cell phones and demanded their bank passwords, WBMA reported.
She said their captors didn’t know that her boyfriend had his own gun concealed on his person.
“Adam had his gun on him the whole time because he said, ‘This is how people get robbed.’ So, I was just waiting on him to use it,” Paulus explained.
“When she dropped her guard for a second, and lowered her gun for a second, he pulled out his gun and told her to get on the ground,’’ Paulus said. “She started messing with her gun and it was jamming but they shot at each other.”
“She was shot three times and he was shot once. Her femur was shattered so she couldn’t get away,’’ she said.
The second suspect – later identified as 36-year-old Krystal Pinkins – fled into the woods when the shooting started, AL.com reported.
Paulus told police that she found her phone in the woods and after several tries, managed to get a call through to 911 despite really bad reception, WBMA reported.
Then she ripped off her shirt and used it as a tourniquet on her boyfriend before she began performing CPR on him.
The 22-tear-old Simjee never regained consciousness, WBMA reported.
Paulus said it took 30 minutes for police and an ambulance to arrive at the scene of the attack.
While she waited for help, she was stuck in the woods with Hider, who had killed Simjee and was begging Paulus to let her go, WBMA reported.
“The girl was asking if she could get away because she had a child and she needed food and it wasn’t supposed to be like this and she can’t go to jail but her femur was shattered and she couldn’t get away,” Paulus explained.
“We would have given you food and money, I already told her like she didn’t have to shoot,” she recalled telling Hider.
“I think I said everything I needed to say to her until we go to court,” Paulus added.
Hider was airlifted to a Birmingham hospital for surgery on the gunshot wounds, WBMA reported.
Clay County Sheriff Jim Studdard said authorities who were searching for Pinkins found a large base camp set up in the forest about half a mile from the crime scene, AL.com reported.
Deputies spotted Pinkins standing near the tents and approached her.
The sheriff said that as deputies ordered the suspect to the ground, a five year old ran out of the woods carrying a loaded shotgun, AL.com reported.
The child ignored deputies’ order to put the gun down and proceeded to walk over to his mother.
Then he put the gun down and was taken into custody, AL.com reported.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office has charged Pinkins and Hider with first degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, and two counts of robbery.
Pinkins is also charged with endangering the welfare of a child, AL.com reported.
Paulus said her murdered boyfriend was brave and had been very-much loved by friends and family, WBMA reported.
“He literally was like an angel on earth already,” she said sadly. “Everyone who met him loved him. He was always making jokes and being goofy.”
“Him dying a hero to protect me, like that is just so him,” Paulus added.