Florida College Student Is Killed in Robbery While Hiking in Talladega National Forest

Two women have been arrested in connection with the killing of Adam Simjee

Adam Simjee, Mikayla Paulus
Adam Simjee and Mikayla Paulus. Photo: Facebook

The shared dreams of a Florida couple about to begin a year of college together were shattered Sunday morning in Alabama, when a young man was fatally shot during a robbery that took place inside Talladega National Forest near Cheaha State Park, PEOPLE confirms.

Two women are now facing criminal charges for their alleged roles in the shooting death of Adam Simjee, 22.

According to a statement from the Clay County Sheriff's Office, Simjee's girlfriend, 20-year-old Mikayla Paulus, called 911 soon after the killing and told authorities that Simjee exchanged gunfire with one of the suspects identified by police as Yasmine Hider.

Hider's age was not revealed.

The statement says that responding officers arrived to find Paulus performing CPR on her long-time boyfriend. A female, "later identified as Yasmine Hider, was laying on the ground nearby," reads the statement. "Hider had suffered several gunshots to her torso."

Simjee was declared dead at the scene.

"It was determined that Hider had attempted to rob Simjee and Paulus at gunpoint and was subsequently shot by Simjee who had a handgun concealed on his person," reads the statement. "Hider was transported from the scene by ambulance to a nearby landing zone and airlifted to a Birmingham hospital where she underwent surgery for her injuries."

WBMA spoke with Paulus, who said the couple were heading to Arkansas on a road trip that had been planned for the week before they would attend classes at the University of Central Florida. They came upon a woman who appeared to be experiencing car trouble — who police allege was Hider — and decided to do what they could to help. After the couple worked on the car together for an hour, the vehicle was still inoperable.

"At the end, when nothing could be done, she pulled out a gun and walked [us] into the woods," Paulus told WBMA.

The woman allegedly told the pair to drop their cell phones, Paulus said. That is when "Adam pulled out his gun and told her to get on the ground and that's when she started messing around with her gun. It jammed once but they both shot at each other and she was shot a few times and he was shot only once," Paulus alleged.

Paulus retrieved her phone from the woods and called 911 before ripping her shirt off and using it as a tourniquet to stop Simjee's bleeding. She began CPR on him, but he never regained consciousness.

"He literally was like an angel on earth already," she described. "Everyone who met him loved him. He was always making jokes and being goofy. Him dying a hero to protect me, like that is just so him."

Paulus told WBMA she and the woman spoke as she waited for police 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," Paulus recalled.

The sheriff's office statement alleges that investigators learned that a second "female suspect was present during the robbery and had fled the scene on foot after the shots were fired."

As they continued to investigate the crime, detectives learned "there 'may be' a group of people 'living off the grid' somewhere in the National Forest. This group of people were reported to be armed and potentially violent."

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Authorities located "a group of tents that had been set up in the National Forest in what appeared to be a base camp" about a half a mile from where the robbery took place.

"As law enforcement were approaching the base camp, they observed a Black female standing near the tents," the statement reads. "As officers were ordering the female to the ground, a 5-year-old child ran from the woods holding a loaded shotgun. Law enforcement told the child to put the shotgun down however the child continued to the female's location before laying the gun on the ground."

It was determined the boy was the son of Krystal Pinkins, whose age was not provided.

Police allege Pinkins was the other woman who was present during the robbery. She has been charged with single counts of murder and endangering the welfare of a child and two counts each of kidnapping and robbery.

Pinkins remains in custody on bond, and her son is now a ward of the state.

Hider is charged with one count of murder and two counts of kidnapping and robbery. She is currently in a Birmingham hospital, where she recovers from her surgeries under the observation of sheriff's deputies.

Neither suspect has entered pleas, and information on their lawyers was unavailable Wednesday.

A GoFundMe campaign is now accepting donations to cover his funeral expenses.

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