Father laments carjacking suspect's fall into crime 'spiral'

By Chuck Weber

WEST PALM BEACH (WFLX)-A father spoke frankly after his son went before a judge Thursday. The son, 22-year old Shamsiddin Saleem, is charged with the violent carjacking of an elderly couple Monday in Delray Beach.

While family members of the accused often maintain their loved one didn't do it, or make excuses, Saleem's father, Taqiyy Saleem, made no attempt to deny his son's involvement.

"He was not always this way," said the elder Saleem. "When they reach a certain age, things just turn and they get out of hand."

Shamsiddin Saleem is charged with attempted second degree murder and armed carjacking. Monday night, outside a Delray Beach condo, 82-year old Russell Keegan and 90-year old Gertrude Stern were returning from dinner, when they were confronted by carjackers. Keegan was shot in the neck. Stern suffered a broken hip. Keegan's car was recovered in West Palm Beach.

According to the arrest report, Saleem confessed to being the lookout. But police say the 82-year old shooting victim identified Saleem as the shooter.

"He was very good at chess," recalled the accused's father. Taqiyy Saleem said his son played the game when he was just 11.

But things went downhill. In 2005 Shamsiddin Saleem got 60 days in jail for stealing a car. A year later, he received a 30-day sentence for fleeing police. Last year, Saleem served a year in jail for driving on a suspended license and being a felon in possession of a gun. Now he's accused of violent felonies.

"You're set on a spiral, that's a downward spiral," said Taqiyy Saleem. "It's difficult to turn around." Mr. Saleem said society needs to work together to address a growing crime problem.

The judge ordered Shamsiddin Saleem held with no bail. Delray Beach Police are looking for at least one more suspect in the carjacking.