Intoxicated driver struck, killed woman in mall parking lot, police say

Police say 20-year-old Rajee Almashni is charged with murder and multiple other felony charges in connection to the death of 72-year-old Elizabeth Atkinson.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 1:02 AM CST
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JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. (WBNG/Gray News) - Police in New York say a man is charged with murder and multiple other felony charges after he allegedly struck and killed a 72-year-old woman in a shopping mall parking lot on Sunday.

The Johnson City Police Department said in a news release that 20-year-old Rajee Almashni, of Binghamton, was charged in connection to the death of 72-year-old Elizabeth Atkinson.

Officers were called to the Oakdale Commons shopping mall Sunday around 4:20 p.m. to check on the welfare of a man who was believed to be intoxicated. They were told the man had entered at least two different vehicles in the parking lot, WBNG reports.

An officer initially tried to make contact with the suspect, later identified as Almashni, while he was in the driver’s seat of a vehicle, but the suspect allegedly fled in the vehicle at a high rate of speed.

Police said within seconds, Almashni struck Atkinson, who was leaving a store.

Authorities noted this happened out of the officer’s view, as he retreated to his patrol car in an attempt to relocate the suspect.

The officer later found Almashni driving north in the Oakdale Commons parking lot and tried to stop him as he left the area. The suspect did not comply and continued onto State Route 201.

At this time, police say officers were told that Atkinson had been struck, and she was unresponsive. More first responders arrived to provide Atkinson aid, but she later died from her injuries at the hospital.

Officers chased Almashni until his vehicle became disabled. He allegedly tried to flee on foot but was located a short distance away and taken into custody.

Police said Almashi appeared to be intoxicated. Due to the results of a field sobriety test, he was charged with driving while intoxicated.

An investigation determined Almashni tried to steal property inside Oakdale Commons but left when he was approached by mall security. He allegedly entered an unoccupied vehicle and stole property from inside it. He then got into his own vehicle, which was when police say he was initially approached by the officer.

In addition to murder in the second degree and DWI, Almashni is charged with vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, leaving the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident, unlawful fleeing in the first degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree and grand larceny in the fourth degree.

He was being held ahead of his arraignment Monday night.