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Man Charged in Stabbings at Goodwin House

Council looks at solutions for helping employers in their background investigations.

Mustafa Mohamed, 30, of Alexandria, is in jail, charged with two counts of malicious wounding. He is being held without bond.

Police were summoned to Goodwin House on Sunday afternoon by a visitor who had pulled a knife-wielding employee off another employee. The visitor, John Springer, 62, of Alexandria, was visiting his 95-year-old mother.

“He heard screams and went to the aid of another female employee,” said Councilwoman Redella S. “Del” Pepper at this week’s City Council meeting. “John Springer is at the top of my list of heroes of 2005 because if he had not intervened, who knows what might have happened.”

Mohamed seriously injured the female employee and then stabbed Springer, who required more than 40 stitches. He left Springer bleeding and proceeded to stab four elderly residents of Goodwin House before another visitor was able to disarm him. Police took Mohamed into custody without further incident.

“I have been told that this was the result of some sort of dispute between the defendant and another Goodwin House employee,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney S. Randolph Sengel. “At this time, we have charged him with two counts of malicious wounding and our investigation is continuing.”

FIVE OF THE SIX victims were transported to Inova

Fairfax Hospital or Inova Alexandria Hospital. All had non-life threatening injuries but everyone was concerned about the residents who were all in their 90s.

Mayor William D. Euille got the call about the incident as he was getting off a plane. “I went to Goodwin House and spoke to the residents and assured them that we were going to do everything we could to prosecute the man who caused them harm,” he said. “Our police department and our Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office are both doing an excellent job.”

Councilman Paul Smedberg has another concern. “The real story here is background checks on people who are being hired to deal with our most vulnerable citizens and what we can do to enhance the ability of facilities like Goodwin House to obtain information that could prevent incidents like this,” Smedberg said. “It is my understanding that this man had a very similar incident just one year ago. I’m not saying that Goodwin House did anything wrong but we need to look at what we can do to allow employers to get information like this before they hire someone.”

Deborah Collins, the director of the city’s Department of Human Services, explained: “We have looked at the situation from an adult protective services prospective and have found that Goodwin House did due diligence in this case,” she told council. “It is my understanding that the alleged victim in the case that Mr. Smedberg is talking about dropped the charges before it ever got to prosecution. That information wouldn’t necessarily show up on a routine background check,” she said.

Smedberg was not satisfied. “I understand that the state legislature is looking into how facilities like this conduct background checks and considering a change in legislation,” he said. “I would like us to have information about this and for us to support expanding employers’ ability to conduct really thorough national and perhaps international checks on people who are going to be caring for children, persons with disabilities and the elderly.”

Goodwin House has employed Mohamed for about one year and said that there has never been a problem with him. They are conducting their own internal investigation. Mohamed will be in court again in early February.