Crime & Courts

Driver ‘intentionally’ tried to hit 5 people at store, kills 79 year old, NC cops say

Authorities say the killing of a 79-year-old pedestrian in an Aldi parking lot in Matthews was intentional, and police believe the accused woman tried to run down at least four other people before fleeing the scene.

Investigators identified the suspect as 54-year-old Sawan Alshabani of Matthews, who turned herself into police an hour after hitting the other woman. Alshabani was under “medical evaluation” at a hospital for a week before being arrested on Oct. 21, Matthews Police Chief Clark Pennington said.

She is charged with multiple offenses including first-degree murder in the death of Vira Hryhorniva Nahorna, Pennington said.

Matthews Police told McClatchy news group on Oct. 23 that they were joined by the FBI in the investigation, and it was determined that the incident was not a hate crime against an immigrant nor an act of terror, something multiple news outlets have suggested. Police officials said they are aware of such reports and labeled them unfounded.

Nahorna was buried Thursday in Matthews. She was a wife and mother of three who immigrated to the United States from Ombish, Ukraine, according to an obituary.

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“As a result of numerous statements and after evaluating the evidence, we can say with a level of certainty that the collision with Miss Nahorna was no accident,” he said. “In fact, the suspect in this case not only intentionally struck Miss Nahorna but attempted to strike at least four other people in the parking lot.”

The incident happened around 10 a.m. in the parking lot of the Aldi grocery store at 555 W. John St., police said.

Officers found Nahorna in the parking lot. She was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, where she died later in the day.

“The driver of the vehicle initially left the scene and contacted Matthews Police Department Communications a short time later to meet with officers,” according to a police news release.

Investigators have not revealed a motive in the case, but Pennington said investigators believe “this was a random, isolated incident, and there has been no ongoing threat to our community.”

Police obtained warrants also charging Alshabani with 2 counts each of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon. She was arrested after being released from the hospital.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.
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