Student killed in shootout with female robbers living off the grid with armed 5-year-old in Alabama forest

·4 min read

A student has been killed in a shootout with a pair of alleged female robbers who were living off the grid in an Alabama forest with a five-year-old boy who then confronted responding law enforcement with a loaded shotgun.

Adam Simjee, 22, was shot dead on Sunday morning in the Talladega National Forest close to Cheaha State Park in east Alabama after setting off on a road trip with his 20-year-old girlfriend Mikayla Paulus.

The young couple from Florida, who were enjoying a vacation together before they planned to go off to the University of Central Florida together next week, were driving along National Forestry Road 600-3 when Yasmine Hider flagged down their vehicle, according to Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

Ms Hider allegedly claimed that her car had broken down and asked them to help her.

But when the unsuspecting couple went to help, Ms Hider pulled out a gun and ordered them to walk into the woods, authorities said.

Ms Paulus recounted in terrifying detail to ABC3340 how the attacker then ordered her and her boyfriend of four years to drop their cellphones into the woods and hand over their banking passwords.

As they were being held at gunpoint, authorities said that Mr Simjee pulled out his own concealed handgun and a shootout erupted between him and the alleged robber.

The 22-year-old student suffered a single fatal gunshot wound, while Ms Hider was also shot multiple times including in the torso.

While Ms Paulus desperately tried to save her longtime boyfriend by tying a tourniquet around his gunshot wound, she told police that she spotted another woman – Krystal Pinkins – lurking in the woods watching the chaos unfold.

Ms Hider and Ms Pinkins – who investigators said may have been part of a violent, armed gang living in the forest – briefly spoke to each other, police said.

Then, instead of helping her apparent accomplice or a dying Mr Simjee, Ms Pinkins allegedly fled from the scene.

Ms Paulus managed to find her cellphone in the woods and called 911 for help.

Adam Simjee and Mikayla Paulus were on a road trip together when the shooting unfolded (GoFundMe)
Adam Simjee and Mikayla Paulus were on a road trip together when the shooting unfolded (GoFundMe)

For the next 30 minutes, she was left alone in the woods with Mr Simjee’s alleged killer while she waited for emergency services to arrive.

“The girl was asking if she could get away because she had a child and she needed food and it wasn’t supposed to be like this and she can’t go to jail but her femur was shattered and she couldn’t get away,” Ms Paulus told ABC3340.

“We would have given you food and money, I already told her like she didn’t have to shoot. I think I said everything I needed to say to her until we go to court.”

Officers arrived on the scene to find Ms Paulus attempting CPR on her unresponsive boyfriend. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Ms Hider was found lying on the ground nearby and was airlifted to a Birmingham hospital where she underwent surgery for her injuries.

In a bizarre twist to the tragedy, investigators were soon tipped off that there “may be” a group of “armed and potentially violent” people “living off the grid” somewhere in the National Forest close to where the attack took place.

Multiple law enforcement agencies combed the area for the gang and – after several hours – they closed in on an encampment just half a mile from the deadly shooting where the two alleged suspects are believed to have been living.

When officers approached the tents, they spotted a woman – later identified as Ms Pinkins – standing close by.

As they were ordering the suspect to the ground, authorities said that her five-year-old son ran out of the woods holding a loaded shotgun.

Officers told the child to put the shotgun down but the little boy continued to run to his mother before complying and laying the gun on the ground.

Krystal Pinkins pictured in her booking photo (Clay County Sheriff’s Office)
Krystal Pinkins pictured in her booking photo (Clay County Sheriff’s Office)

Ms Pinkins was arrested and charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery and child endangerment. She is being held in the Clay County Detention Center.

Her young son has been taken into custody by the Department of Human Resources.

Ms Hider is also facing charges of murder, kidnapping and robbery on her release from hospital.

No one else appeared to be living at the camp at the time, police said, and the encampment will now be dismantled by National Forest officials.

Ms Paulus hailed her boyfriend as a hero for saving her life, saying that he died trying to protect her.

“He literally was like an angel on earth already. Everyone who met him loved him. He was always making jokes and being goofy," she said.

“Him dying a hero to protect me, like that is just so him.”

A GoFundMe to help the victim’s family with funeral costs has reached more than $7,000.