Louisville, KY (written by Jason Riley/The Courier-Journal) -- Hours after allegedly fatally shooting two neighbors at a homeowners association meeting last month, Mahmoud Yousef Hindi told police in a calm and friendly manner that he went to the meeting hoping to resolve issues with the men, but was prepared to kill them -- and did.
"I was hoping that I could reason with them," Hindi said of the Spring Creek Homeowners Association's president, David Merritt, 73, and Marvin Fisher, 69. "But I said to myself, if they are not going to resolve peace with me, honestly, I had to kill them. So I took my gun."
Hindi, 55, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and seven counts of wanton endangerment and has requested that a public defender be appointed because he is indigent.
The video of Hindi's comments, released Wednesday, provides the public's first chance to hear his account of what happened at Springdale Community Church in eastern Jefferson County on Sept. 6. Hindi told police he was frustrated and depressed about problems with his neighbors and the association, and targeted Merritt and Fisher.
"The issue was with these two," Hindi said in the statement, adding that he calmly gave himself up after shooting each man once.
Hindi alleged that he'd been treated unfairly by Merritt and Fischer, among others, in a dispute over a fence and a driveway built at his family's home, noting, "To me, this is about justice and injustice." And he said he went to the meeting to "see if we could get this resolved and be reasonable about this stupid issue."
But he packed an old revolver in a bag, "because if they were not going to act as human beings, I was going to shoot them."
Waited at meeting
After walking to the meeting, with his loaded revolver hidden in the bag -- and six extra bullets -- Hindi said he said hello to those in attendance and sat at a table near Merritt and Fisher. He rested his bag on another chair and waited, he said.
After 20 to 30 minutes, with no one addressing his issue, Hindi said he pulled out the weapon, stood up and shot Merritt and Fisher. Merritt died at the scene of a gunshot wound in the head and Fisher died days later.
Hindi said he told others at the meeting he had "nothing against them" as another neighbor, a retired Louisville police officer, grabbed him and told him to drop the weapon, which Hindi said he did.
Hindi said he told the retired officer he wouldn't hurt him. Hindi told the man to call police, saying, "I'm not going anywhere."
Hindi said his family "had no idea what I had in mind," telling them he would be back for a birthday dinner after walking to the meeting.
Asked repeatedly about whether he would do anything different, Hindi said only that he wished he had shot Merritt, Fisher and Spring Creek Homeowners Association attorney Mike Kelly in an encounter the week before the shooting, saying they acted as if his family "had landed from Mars or something."
"I wished I had done that," he said. "Those are not human beings."
Hindi had been in court with Merritt, Fisher and Kelly on Aug. 28 as part of a lawsuit filed by the homeowners association against Hindi over zoning code violations. During that hearing, Hindi told Jefferson Circuit Judge Charles Cunningham that Kelly was harassing him and his children.
Mental health struggles
Jefferson Circuit Judge Frederic Cowan has ordered that Hindi continue to be held without bond at least until a public defender is appointed and there is another hearing.
The next court date is set for Monday.
Hindi's family and attorneys have said he has struggled with mental health problems for years and has been under psychiatric care. Hindi, a doctor whose specialty was nuclear medicine, had a practice in Mayfield, Ky., until he gave it up because he suffered from severe depression, according to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure.
In the interview with police, Hindi said he had taken Prozac since 2008 because of depression caused by back problems. Hindi also said he had been under a doctor's care since 2005.
Hindi, who said he lived in Mayfield but had been living with his children for the last three months following back surgery, told police he woke up about 5:30 a.m. the day of the shooting, and prayed before going back to sleep until 9:30 a.m. He said he ate lunch, prayed again and tried to rest but couldn't. "I was restless ... because of that stuff on my mind," he said, referring to the dispute over the fence and driveway.
"I killed them; I had to kill them," Hindi told police. "I feel like I failed to protect my family, especially my kids."