LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Louisville man who was having zoning trouble with the fence around his house shot and killed a neighbor and critically injured another at a homeowners association meeting inside a church, police said Friday.
Mahmoud Yousef Hindi, 55, is scheduled to be arraigned Saturday morning on charges of murder, assault and seven counts of wanton endangerment following the Thursday evening shooting, which took place during a meeting of the Spring Creek Homeowners Association. Police didn't release the type of weapon used.
What specifically sparked the attack wasn't clear. Hindi, though, had a history of disputes with the homeowners group revolving around a fence that the association said didn't meet its height or design requirements, said Louisville Police Lt. Barry Wilkerson. There were also disputes over a driveway he had recently installed in his yard without first obtaining the proper permits, Wilkerson said. Last year, he sent a threatening letter about the dispute to the group's attorney, the attorney said.
The fence at the center of the dispute was no longer standing at the house Friday.
"We do know that is a part of it," Wilkerson said. "How much, I don't know."
Wilkerson wouldn't say if Hindi confessed after his arrest but said that "he did give us an account of what happened."
Hindi was only at the meeting for a short time before he started shooting, police said. Some of the several people in attendance detained him until officers arrived.
David Merritt, 73, a one-time president of the homeowners association, was shot once in the head and died at the scene, said Jefferson County Chief Deputy Coroner Jo-Ann Farmer. The wounded man, whose identity was not immediately released, was hospitalized Friday at the University of Louisville Hospital, Farmer said.
Spring Creek Homeowners Association attorney Mike Kelly told The Associated Press that the group accused Hindi of violating zoning laws. Hindi wrote several letters to Kelly, expressing anger and contempt for the attorney, Kelly said.
In one letter sent Aug. 25, 2011, which the AP obtained as a public record, Hindi ranted about several neighbors in the upscale community of $300,000 homes.
A medical doctor educated in Jordan, Hindi cited the Quran, the theory of creationism, and the idea that America has moved to Communism. He also threatened to form his own homeowners association and accused neighbors of stealing his "no trespassing signs" during the dispute over the fence. Hindi also wrote that he tried to make peace with the neighbors, but became frustrated.
"It came to the point I was going to shoot any trespassers," Hindi wrote. He wrote that if anyone doubted his intentions, "Try me and go ahead make my day."
The Spring Creek subdivision in the predominantly upper-middle-class eastern end of Louisville includes stately, two-story brick homes, many valued between $270,000 and $300,000. It has manicured lawns and identical mailboxes. The homeowner's association bylaws, posted on its website, include restrictions on the height, type and placement of fences; grass-cutting regulations (not to exceed 6 inches); and a requirement that every house have at least a two-car garage.
Barbara Pass, who lives down the street from Hindi, said people were intimidated by him, "because they never knew what to expect from him."
"He threatened people, he would say things like, 'You know I've got a gun and I just might use it.'"
She said he threatened his next-door neighbor so much that the family moved.
Pass, a former member of the homeowner's board, said she didn't go to the meeting because of a recent surgery.
Hindi's family members were surprised and puzzled by the shooting and arrest.
"Oh, my God," said his sister-in-law Magda Hindi when reached by telephone at her home in Carmel, Ind. Magda Hindi said she had been unaware of the shooting and arrest.
Hassan Hindi, Mahmoud Hindi's brother and Magda Hindi's husband, said family members tried to speak with Mahmoud Hindi on Thursday night and Friday morning, but authorities did not allow them to.
"Even his family does not know what happened," Hassan Hindi said in a telephone interview. "What happened is still not clear."
In the August 2011 letter to the association, Mahmoud Hindi wrote that he had been "biting my teeth and exercising the highest level of self-restraint" in dealing with his neighbors.
"As I always tell ... I will protect the sacred interest of my kids even if it comes to killing and even if I lose my own life in the course of doing so," Hindi wrote. "Thank God the house is paid off. I can pass away in peace with no concerns."
Hindi also referred to a letter from Kelly about the code violation issue as a "stupid terrorist attempt."
"If you ever dare to write my kids and pursue intimidation and harassment, you will be sorry; trust me," Hindi wrote.
In papers dated May 11, Hindi requested a waiver from the city to keep his driveway.
The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure lists Hindi as having been admitted to practice in Graves County in western Kentucky in March 2001. Hindi's license expired in February 2008. No reason is listed for the expiration. Hindi, who listed his medical school as University of Jordan, Amman, practiced nuclear medicine.
The Kentucky Secretary of State's office records show Hindi incorporated M. Yoseph Hindi, MD Enterprises in Mayfield in May 2002, but the company was administratively dissolved in November 2003 for failing to file an annual report with the state.