Judge issues gag order in case of man’s shooting death near Cheaha State Park; 2nd suspect in jail

Robbery & shooting victim died protecting girlfriend
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 5:32 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2022 at 4:48 PM CDT
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CLAY CO., Ala. (WBRC) - A Clay County judge issued a gag order in the case of a Florida man killed in a shooting and attempted robbery on August 14, 2022.

According to court records the State of Alabama filed a Motion To Prohibit Participants From Commenting On Or Releasing Information About The Case To The Press. Judge David F. Law approved the motion saying, “After hearing argument from the State, this Court finds that there is a substantial probability of material prejudice to the Defendant’s ability to receive a fair trial, should the parties be free to discuss without limits the case in a setting where media coverage is likely and there are not any reasonable alternatives.”

You can read the full order below:

Authorities say the shooting happened on National Forest Service Road near Cheaha State Park.

The Clay County Sheriff says the victim is 22-year-old Adam Simjee from Apopka, Florida.

20-year-old Mikayla Paulus and her boyfriend, Simjee, were taking one last summer vacation before they started back at University in Florida. While near Cheaha State Park, they pulled over to help what they thought was a woman in need.

“They love traveling together,” Heather Lambert, Paulus’s mom, said. “They were going to go to the waterfall, so they were driving and this girl flagged them down and said she needed help with her car, so they stopped.”

Lambert said her daughter and Simjee tried to help the woman for more than 30 minutes and when they couldn’t fix the car, deputies said the woman attempted to rob them.

“She told them to put up their hands and give her the keys and their cell phones and they did,” Lambert said.

Lambert said Simjee brought protection, a gun of his own, to help keep them safe while traveling.

“She [the suspect] had them at gun point the whole time, then she put the gun down some, and that is when he pulled out his gun and told him to drop hers,” Lambert said. “Then, I guess she shot him and he shot her back a couple times.”

Lambert says she is thankful Simjee had a gun and protected her daughter.

“I don’t know how Mikayla didn’t get shot in all of that, but she had taken off her shirt to stop the bleeding, and she called 911 and was giving him chest compressions,” Lambert said. “She thinks he was alive for at least 20 minutes, but it took them at least 30 minuets to get there. I don’t know what would have happened if he didn’t have the gun on him.”

Adam died in the woods and when officers arrived, Clay County Sheriff’s Department said they found another suspect, Krystal Pinkins, who had been watching the robbery and shooting.

Police then found multiple tents at a base camp in the forest. Lambert said the woman had mentioned living in the woods before the robbery.

“They told them they were trying to live off the grid,” she said. “They were trying to live out in the woods.”

Lambert said she’s thankful her daughter is home safe and that Simjee died a hero.

“There is no one like Adam,” she said “They completed each other, they really did.”

The following is the full news release from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office:

“On Sunday, August 14, 2002, at approximately 11:30 am, 911 notified Clay County Sheriff’s Office and dispatched Clay County Rescue Squad and Shinbone Valley Volunteer Fire Department to National Forrest Service Road 600-3 near Cheaha Mountain for a 22-year-old male who had been shot in the back. There were no other details on this call that were known at the time it was dispatched. Upon arrival at the scene, sheriff’s deputies, Lineville police and responding emergency personnel found the girlfriend of the shooting victim, 20-year-old Mikayla Paulus, performing CPR on her long-time boyfriend, Adam Simjee, who had been shot.

A black female, later identified as Yasmine Hider, was laying on the ground nearby. Hider had suffered several gunshots to her torso. Medical personnel were unable to revive Simjee who died at the scene. It was determined that Hider had attempted to rob Simjee and Paulus at gunpoint and was subsequently shot by Simjee who had a handgun concealed on his person. Hider was transported from the scene by ambulance to a nearby landing zone and airlifted to a Birmingham hospital where she underwent surgery for her injuries.

The initial investigation revealed that a second black female suspect was present during the robbery and had fled the scene on foot after the shots were fired. Over the next several hours sheriff deputies received information that they may be a group of people “living off the grid” somewhere in the National Forest. This group of people were reported to be armed and potentially violent. The dog tracking team from the Alabama Department of Corrections were contacted and they responded with a tracking team. ALEA was also contacted, and they responded with a helicopter to provide aerial observation and overwatch for the deputies on the ground. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office reached out to nearby authorities: Lineville Police, Ashland police, Heflin Police and Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office, as well as forestry and park rangers for assistance. All of these agencies responded to this call for assistance.

The tracking team lead law enforcement to a large group of tents that had been set up in the National Forrest in what appeared to be a base camp. This camp was located approximately 1/2 mile from the scene of the robbery. As law enforcement were approaching the base camp, they observed a black female standing near the tents. As officers were ordering the female to the ground a 5-year-old child ran from the woods holding a loaded shotgun. Law enforcement told the child to put the shotgun down however the child continued to the female’s location before laying the gun on the ground. The female was taken into custody and later identified as Krystal Pinkins. It was determined that the child was Pinkins’ son. Pinkins was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Department of Human Resources was notified, and they took custody of the child.

Law enforcement began trying to put the pieces together as to what had happened that led to the shootings and death of this young man. In the past 48 hours, the investigation revealed that Mikayla and Adam were driving down National Forestry Road 600-3, when they were flagged down by a black female, later identified as Yasmine Hider. Hider asked the couple if they could give her some assistance to get her car started, which was nearby. When the couple attempted to assist Hider, she produced a gun and made the couple walk back into the woods. At some point, after Hider walked them at gunpoint into the woods, Simjee produced a handgun that was concealed on his person. There was exchange of gunfire, during which the suspect was shot multiple times. Simjee was struck by gunfire as well and died at the scene. Mikayla was not injured in the gunfire exchange; however, she did suffer mental stress and trauma from witnessing this horrendous act. It was at this time that Mikayla realized there was a second black female, later identified as Krystal Diane Pinkins, standing in the woods nearby observing what was going on.

The shooter (Hider) then called out to Pinkins to come help her. After a brief conversation between the suspects Pinkins fled the scene on foot. Mikayla was then able to retrieve her cell phone and call 911 for assistance.

After further investigation, Pinkins was charged with one (1) count of Murder, two (2) counts kidnapping and two (2) counts of robbery. She was arrested on those charges and remains in the Clay County Detention Center under bond.

Krystal Pinkins
Krystal Pinkins(Clay County Sheriff's Office)

Clay County Sheriff Investigators have also obtained warrants against Hider for the following charges: one (1) count of Murder, two (2) counts kidnapping and two (2) counts of robbery. Hider is currently in a Birmingham hospital, while she recovers from her surgeries under the observation of sheriff’s deputies. The weapons used in the crime have been recovered.

Yasmine Hider
Yasmine Hider(Clay County Sheriff's Office)

It should be noted that this crime did not occur at Cheaha State Park. The crime occurred in the Talladega National Forrest approximately 1 mile from the state park boundaries.

Sheriff Studdard would like to thank all of the agencies and officers who rallied to their call for assistance. It is this partnership between agencies that allowed us to quickly apprehend the offenders and help bring justice for these victims.”

Here is a statement from Cheaha State Park: “Cheaha State Park re-opened Sunday night after local authorities apprehended a suspect in connection with a fatal shooting that occurred within the Talladega National Forest. Our Park Rangers assisted local agencies, but since it was not within the boundaries of Cheaha State Park, we will refer any questions about it to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service Rangers.”

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