Sunday, January 03, 2016

03-Jan-16: Friday's Tel Aviv shooter is still on the loose

As a follow-up to our real-time report ["01-Jan-16: Friday afternoon shooting in central Tel Aviv"], it's now early Sunday morning and Israel's police and security forces are still engaged in a manhunt for the gunman who killed two people and wounded several others in a broad-daylight attack on people in a busy Tel Aviv bar. Here's what we know:
  • The shooter is an Israeli Arab from the Arab village of Arara in northern Israel. His name is Nashat Melhem, and he served time in an Israeli prison after being sentenced in 2007 to five years behind bars for attacking violently, and trying to grab a gun, from an IDF soldier, Ram Jan, at Karkur Junction near the IDF’s Mahane 80 base.
  • Melhem's father is a police volunteer. Times of Israel says he recognized his son in video footage of the attack and alerted the police. The son had stolen his father’s weapon - an Italian-made Spectre semi-automatic pistol - from a safe at their home.
  • The father, Mashat Melhem, works for a security firm in Hadera.
  • Another Melhem son, Jaudat, was arrested Friday on suspicion of involvement in the crime.
  • Security video footage was released today showing the actual attack, and the moments leading up to it.
  • According to a NY Times report, a clansman of the shooter, Sami Melhem, a lawyer "who said he had represented the suspect in the past, identified him as a 29-year-old resident of Arara, an Arab town in northern Israel. “He has severe depression and unusual behavior,” Mr. Melhem said."
  • The shooter fired single rounds at first, and then put his weapon into automatic mode. He replaced its magazine at least once during the attack.
  • The two people killed at the Dizengoff site were Alon Bakal, 26, the pub's manager; and Shimon Ruimi, 30, a patron from Ofakim, in Israel's south, celebrating a birthday along with several long-time friends.
  • Police are checking a potential link between the Dizengoff shooting and another murder, that of Amin Shaaban, an Arab Israeli taxi driver whose body was found in Yonitzman St. in north Tel Aviv not long after the attack took place [Haaretz].

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