A 39-year-old homeless man is behind bars, facing multiple charges after he fatally shot the director of a homeless shelter where he previously stayed.
Authorities say West Spruill waited outside of the shelter Monday evening for the woman and when she came to her car, which she had parked away from the shelter out of safety concerns, Spruill held her at gunpoint and forced her to remove all of her clothing.
At some point, the victim escaped and attempted to flee, running down the street completely naked and prompting several witnesses to call 911.
But Spruill chased after the woman and when he made contact once again, shot her three times in the temple, cheek and chest at close range.
Witnesses said that Spruill then returned to the woman’s car, put his clothes back on and walked away carrying two bags, one of which contained a .40-caliber handgun.
The victim, who was identified as 36-year-old Ana Charle, was rushed to the hospital, but she did not survive. An autopsy was due to be performed Tuesday to determine, in part, if Charle had been sexually assaulted before her death.
Shortly after the shooting, police found Spruill, who was described as a “professional criminal” that “shut down” as soon as he was apprehended. He was charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon, a local ABC affiliate reported. If Charle’s autopsy reveals a sexual assault occurred, Spruill will likely face additional charges.
Authorities confirmed that Spruill has an extensive criminal history, dating back more than two decades. He recently spent eight years in prison for assault with a dangerous weapon, and was released in January 2014 without parole restrictions, despite the fact he had a history of assaults even while incarcerated. He was most recently arrested for assault last month.
Wanda L. Rijo, a friend of Charle who also works at the shelter, told The New York Times Spruill had previously stayed there for about seven months and that he had “mental health issues.”
Rijo said Charle was a wonderful person, an excellent mother and a hard worker who cared deeply about the area’s homeless population. She was described by others as having a heart of gold and an individual who always had time for others.
An ex-boyfriend of Charle, Gary Alcindor, said she had “incidents” in the past and was concerned about safety issues at the shelter. In fact, this year alone there were over 175 calls made to 911 from the shelter, according to City Councilman Andrew Cohen, who has been pushing for added security in the area for months.
The remaining workers at the shelter are said to be heartbroken over Charle’s death.
The Department of Homeless Services released a statement offering condolences to Charle’s friends and family and pointed out that their staff, which included Charle, “go above and beyond the call of duty every day to improve the lives of thousands of people living in shelter.”
The investigation is ongoing.