American held in Israel for 1997 murder is killed in shootout with guards

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Samuel Sheinbein, an American who fled to Israel after murdering a Maryland teenager 17 years ago, was killed in a prison shootout on Sunday during an apparent escape attempt near Tel Aviv.

The Associated Press reports:

"Police special forces rushed to [Sharon] prison in central Israel after Sheinbein stole a weapon and shot three guards, wounding two of them seriously. He then barricaded himself inside the compound where a standoff ensued, with counter-terrorism units dispatched to the scene. The inmate then opened fire again, wounding three more guards, before the forces shot him dead, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said."

NPR's Emily Harris reports that Sheinbein, 34, reportedly had been on a day release for good behavior when he obtained a gun that he used on the guards.

She says in 1997, Sheinbein fled the U.S. for Israel after brutally strangling Maryland teenager Alfred Tello and then dismembering his body. He fled to Israel after Tello's remains were found.

"He claimed Israeli citizenship through his dad, a dual U.S.-Israeli national. Israel refused U.S. demands to extradite Sheinbein for trial, causing diplomatic tensions at the time. In 1999 an Israeli court sentenced Sheinbein to 24 years for the Maryland murder."

The AP quotes Nitzana Darshan-Leitner, who represented Sheinbein in 1997, as calling Sunday's shootout a "terrible tragedy."

"When he was sentenced, he was 17, without a criminal background, a kid from a normal background," she said. "It is hard to understand how after all these years in prison it was not able to help him rehabilitate," he told the AP.

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