JUST IN: Tobacco shop worker found not guilty in shooting case | ARLnow
(Updated at 5:35 p.m.) An Arlington jury found a store worker not guilty of shooting a burglar, in a case that received national media attention.
It all started with a robbery of the Arlington Smoke Shop, at 2428 Shirlington Road in the Green Valley neighborhood, shortly before 5 a.m. on March 29, 2020. Three masked suspects reportedly broke into the store and began stealing smoke. money and goods.
Store worker Hamzeh Abushariah was sleeping in a back room of the store at the time due to Covid issues in his building in DC. Prosecutors alleged that Abushariah grabbed a gun and shot one of the suspects, aged under 18, point-blank in the back.
Abushariah was arrested and charged with malicious wounding, reckless handling of a firearm and breach of a protective order. Two juvenile suspects, including the one who was shot and seriously injured, were later charged in connection with the burglary.
The charge of reckless handling of a firearm was dismissed in April, according to court records, a week after Abushariah was charged with contempt for misconduct in court. The protective order charge remains active, with a hearing scheduled next Tuesday.
But yesterday, after a trial in Arlington Circuit Court that began on Monday, a jury found Abushariah not guilty of malicious wounding, the most serious charge.
“I can’t even explain how happy I am,” Abushariah told ARLnow. “I am at home with my family. There’s nothing like being free, especially when you know you’re innocent.
Jowan Zuber, the store owner who has appeared several times on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight to defend Abushariah, said the verdict was vindication.
“I cracked when the verdict, the 12 jurors, fell [back] not guilty, self-defense,” Zuber said. “So they saw the Commonwealth had no evidence holding Hamzeh Abushariah for two years, no evidence, taking him away from his children and his livelihood while we fought.”
He said video released during the trial showed it was dark in the store when the break-in happened.
“So when he fired he didn’t know where he was aiming,” Zuber said. “[Prosecutors] really hurt that guy.
He said the verdict brought relief to Abushariah’s family after “two years of nightmares back and forth”.
“The suffering, the tears that my wife, my children, my family, my sisters, my parents, it is not given, it is not nothing. It’s something, it means a lot to me,” Abushariah said.
Abushariah was jailed for several months after the shooting, then released under house arrest for four months before being re-arrested, Zuber said. He has been in jail ever since, before being released around 6 p.m. Wednesday evening.
Zuber and Abushariah thanked the jury and said they had to mention defense attorney Robert Marshall’s work on the case. In a video posted on Facebook, Abushariah is reunited with his family on leaving prison as Zuber says it’s all thanks to Marshall.
“We believed in [Marshall] since day one, and he just went to show what is right and showed that we shouldn’t protect criminals and that you have the right to protect yourself when people come to hurt you or break in violently Zuber told ARLnow. “It’s very bad for Arlington because we’re here as citizens, we pay our taxes and we want to protect the good people, not the bad ones… The jury, the people, made this happen.”
Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, Commonwealth attorney for Arlington and Falls Church, gave a brief statement to ARLnow.
“As always, we respect the verdict and thank the jurors for their service,” the county’s chief prosecutor said.
In response to further questions from ARLnow, Tafti did not provide further details on the case and said of the charges against the two burglary suspects, “these were juvenile rulings, and therefore no public record”.
Newly free, Abushariah said it was nice to see her children and the green grass and to enjoy the good weather and good food.
“The little things matter so much when you’re free,” he said. “The smallest things in life matter.”
He said he wished the person he shot well.
“I hope his life gets better, he gets well, we both will,” he said.
Brandi Bottalico contributed to this report