Gang shooter gets seven years, deportation

THURSDAY, NOV. 8, 2012, 2:33 P.M.

A Liberian national, who became a father and turned 22 this week, was sentenced today to seven years in prison for a gang-related shooting in Spokane from which a 6-year-old girl was shot in the foot.

In addition, Abubakar Samura will face certain deportation as soon as he is released. He pleaded guilty late last month to two counts of second-degree assault stemming from the March 4 shooting that also injured Matthew W. Woods, who was 23 at the time.

“It amazes me that he is capable of this,” defense attorney Christian Phelps said. “It does not match his personality or disposition.”

Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza struggled to make sense of Samura’s actions.

“Mr. Samura, certainly you got yourself in a terrible … stupid situation. A long line of innocent people will suffer for the decision you made,” Cozza said. “I just have to shake my head. It’s one more example of the kind of damage people cause when they get involved in gangs. There is no sense to it.”

Spokane police said Woods was at home with a friend when someone from a nearby home in the 300 block of South Pittsburg Street started yelling derogatory comments about Woods’ gang.

The yelling led to a confrontation in which Samura shot Woods in the legs and back. Samura fired several more times as Woods ran and one of those bullets went through a wall and struck a 6-year-old girl in the foot.

Phelps said Samura could have fled the country, but instead turned himself in to police. Samura, who moved to Spokane with his family from Liberia, had been caring for both of his ailing parents, for whom he also served as a translator.

Samura just had a daughter born last week and he turned 22 on Tuesday.

“I know I was raised better than this,” Samura said. “I realize one mistake messes up your whole life. I wish I could take my actions back.”

Cozza sentenced Samura to 12 months in prison for the second-degree assault charges. But each carried a firearm enhancement which added three years to each charge. As a result, Samura received 84 months, or seven years, in prison.

“I’m sorry for what happened that night,” Samura said. “I’m sorry to my newborn daughter and her mother for not being there when they need me most.”

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