Man arraigned for deadly dental practice shooting

A reportedly disgruntled ex-patient accused of fatally shooting a dentist and wounding two other employees at a dental practice in California pleaded not guilty on March 5 to murder and attempted murder charges at his arraignment, according to multiple news reports.

Mohammed Abdulkareem, 29, of El Cajon, CA, will remain in jail without bail for purportedly killing dentist Dr. Benjamin Harouni and injuring employees George Issaian and Yarelli Carrillo at Smile Plus Dentistry & Orthodontics in El Cajon on February 29. If convicted of all charges, Abdulkareem faces more than 100 years to life in state prison, according to reports.

For about half a year, Abdulkareem allegedly repeatedly went to Smile Plus to express his dissatisfaction with the dental treatment he received at the practice. During this time, Abdulkareem allegedly became erratic, causing dental staff to fear him.

At about 4:15 p.m. on February 29, Abdulkareem reportedly entered the dental practice, said nothing, and immediately began shooting. About two dozen rounds were fired within about one minute, according to reports.

Dr. Benjamin Harouni. Image courtesy of Smile Plus Dentistry & Orthodontics.Dr. Benjamin Harouni. Image courtesy of Smile Plus Dentistry & Orthodontics.

Harouni tried to hide behind a door but was shot multiple times in his upper body. The 28-year-old dentist died from his injuries at the practice.

Issaian, the practice office manager, was shot five times in the hand, elbow, and torso, and Carrillo, the front desk administrative assistant, was shot in the legs. Both employees are expected to survive.

After the shooting, Abdulkareem allegedly fled in a rented U-Haul truck that was spotted later that evening. The truck was located, and Abdulkareem was found nearby and taken into custody. At the time, the former patient was purportedly found in possession of a handgun and ammunition, which were consistent with the one used in the shooting, according to reports.

About five days before the shooting, Abdulkareem reportedly received the gun that he legally purchased, according to stories.

Some pro-Israel organizations have called for Abdulkareem, a Muslim, to be charged with a hate crime for the murder of Harouni, an Orthodox Jew. Authorities have said that there is no immediate evidence that this incident was a hate crime, according to reports. 

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