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Man charged with US shooting of UAE student to face grand jury

Man charged with US shooting of UAE student to face grand jury

A Pike County grand jury will determine if the man arrested for the murder of a UAE student in the US state of Alabama in July will be indicted on capital murder and robbery charges, according to local daily Dothan Eagle.

Leon Terrell Flowers, 23, was charged with shooting dead a Brundidge store clerk, 30-year-old Neil Kumar, during a gas station robbery.

Kumar, who was working part-time at the petrol station, is originally from Kerala but spent most of his life in Sharjah. He was enrolled in a master’s degree programme in computer science at Troy University.

After determining there was enough evidence presented, Pike County District Judge Steven Curtis referred Flowers’ case to a Pike Country grand jury.

Evidence shows the shooter entering the gas station at around 6am and demanding money.

Moses Davenport, chief of police in the city of Brundidge, said camera footage shows the gunman getting “aggravated because the clerk seemed to be very cooperative”, going behind the counter and shooting Kumar at close range before leaving with a small amount of cash.

An anonymous 911 call came in just before 7am, he said.

Originally from India, Kumar’s parents, Kumar Purushu and his wife Seema, have lived in Sharjah for most of their lives.

The couple’s three children, including Kumar, went to school in Dubai. Kumar’s two sisters have both since settled in America.

In 2015, Flowers - who has four felony convictions - was charged with murder in the death of a 19-year old man, for which he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter and was released on probation on April 30 when the murder of Kumar took place. While prosecutors had at the time asked that he serve more than 30 years in prison, he served a total of three.

“In my opinion, he shouldn’t have been out to begin with,” said District Attorney Thomas Anderson.

Of Kumar’s family, he said: “I don’t know the depths of their pain. But I assure you our office and law enforcement here, we’re going to fight tooth and nail to try and achieve justice on our end.”

Anderson said it is not known whether Flowers knew Kumar prior to the robbery, but surveillance footage shows “he knew what time the store opened”.

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