Libya: News and Views      LibyaNet.Com      Libyan music       Libya: Our Home
الثلاثاء 7 سبتمبر 2010

Financial hardship may have haunted Aurora man accused of killing friend

Denver Post
www.denverpost.com
12-9-2010

Financial hardship may have haunted Aurora man accused of killing friend

By Kirk Mitchell

The Denver Post
Posted: 09/12/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

AURORA — Mohamed Abdall Abushahma and Michael Wade Jackson became lifelong friends years ago when the Libyan college student jumped into a lake and saved the Arkansas country guitarist.

Jackson and his mother, Judy Fitts, soon moved from Little Rock, Ark., to Aurora to be closer to the one-time stranger who rescued him. Over the years, the two helped each other weather financial and personal hardships.

In a tragic twist, Jackson, 57, allegedly shot and killed Abushahma, 50, and injured Abushahma's 17- year-old son, Abdullah, early Saturday morning.

Horrified neighbors said Jackson was out of control, ranting about the CIA bugging his phone.

Then, as the 300-pound Jackson knelt in the front yard of 1695 S. Tucson St. with a handgun muzzle pressed against his neck, police officers snuck into the house and carried the injured teen to safety.

"The rescue was nothing short of heroic," said police spokesman Bob Friel.

After a 1 1/2-hour standoff in front of the home that transfixed a middle-class neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning, a police sergeant persuaded Jackson to surrender peacefully.

Abdullah Abushahma was in critical condition at Medical Center of Aurora South. Jackson was taken into custody.

Jackson's life had been careening out of control ever since his 81- year-old mother died at a nursing home on Feb. 28, 2009, according to several neighbors.

The unemployed former country and Western guitarist, who would play songs at neighborhood barbecues and Christmas parties, lost his house because his mother's Social Security payments had been covering the rent, according to Even and Heather Griffiths.

Jackson put furniture into the Abushahma garage and his speedboat into the driveway. He tried to sell his mother's golf clubs and boat to neighbors, Heather Griffiths said. He would stay with the Abushahma family off and on for a few days at a time, she said.

Mohamed Abushahma, who was a manager at a Safeway store, also was in financial trouble. He had declared personal bankruptcy in December.

"He was the nicest man in the world," Heather Griffiths said of Abushahma. "But it became too much."

Minutes before 2 a.m. Saturday, Jackson stormed into his old friend's home, said Lauren Thornburg, who lives across the street.

"He was waving the gun around and saying he was going to shoot himself," Thornburg said.

Abushahma's wife, Krystyna Bojko, 47, climbed out a bedroom window and ran to Thornburg's home, where she called police.

"She was hysterical," Thornburg said. "She was screaming. She said she heard gunshots."

Abushahma's teenage daughter climbed out her bedroom window and ran to another neighbor's home, Thornburg said. His other child, a 12-year- old girl, was spending the night elsewhere.

The call to police came in about 2 a.m., Friel said.

Even Griffiths said he watched the standoff from his living room window.

"I got the worst horror show of my life," he said. "They had (Jackson) lit up with a spotlight. He had a gun to his neck. He was saying the CIA was tapping his phone. . . . He was all over the place. He begged police to not torture him. He said the nursing home killed his mother."

The police sergeant ordered the suspect to show his hands, put his weapon down and get down on the ground, but the man refused, Friel said.

Meantime, Abdullah, who was still inside the house, called police and pleaded for help. A bullet had passed through his chest.

Other police officers quickly organized and snuck quietly through the back fence and into the back of the house.

"The officers who went into the home had no way of knowing what was in the house," Friel said. "There could have been another gunman."

When they found Abdullah, they carried him out the back and rushed him to the hospital.

"That was an intense situation," Friel said.

The saga in the front yard continued, and Jackson surrendered and was taken away, Friel said. It was just before 3:30 a.m.

Several of Mohamed Abushahma's friends from Libya later came to the house.

Seraj Drera, 53, said he has known Abushahma since 1979 when they attended Red Rocks Community College together.

Drera said his friend was talkative. He saw him Friday at the Eid al-Fitr festival at an Aurora mosque at the culmination of Ramadan, where he greeted friends with his trademark blessing, wishing them a good year.

"We hugged each other," Drera said.

"He was friendly as always."

Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206 or kmitchell@denverpost.com




Libya: News and Views      LibyaNet.Com      Libyan music       Libya: Our Home