MANASSAS, Va. — A former cab driver who shot a Virginia police officer in the head in 2013 — and was later released after being found not guilty by reason of insanity — pleaded guilty Tuesday to setting his therapist’s home on fire in 2019.
Kashif Bashir, 36, of Woodbridge, pleaded guilty Tuesday to the arson charge, according to WTOP in Washington. He faces five years to life in prison during his sentencing, which is scheduled for April.
Bashir also pleaded guilty to making false statements on a criminal history check, for which he faces one to 10 years behind bars, and to misdemeanor charges of possession of a firearm by a person acquitted by reason of insanity and unauthorized use of a tracking device.
Bashir was accused of setting fire Feb. 6, 2019, to the Manassas home of one of his female mental health providers, who was treating him following his 2018 conditional release from a psychiatric hospital. Bashir, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, spent four years in-patient after being found not guilty by reason of insanity in the Feb. 27, 2013, shooting of now-retired Alexandria police Officer Peter Laboy.
Laboy, who suffered a traumatic brain injury, made what doctors consider a miraculous recovery, but he has never fully recovered from the shooting. Now 54, Laboy ultimately had to retire from the police force because of the bullet’s lingering effects.
The former officer was in the courtroom on Tuesday, as were some of the counselors Bashir was accused of targeting, WTOP reported.
Along with his therapists, Bashir was keeping tabs on Laboy, as well as the prosecutor and the judge in the 2013 shooting case.
“I don’t know if he was planning to do something worse, you know, to me, to my family, the families of the Commonweath’s attorneys, or the judge or their family,” Laboy told NBC Washington on Tuesday.
Bashir’s defense had sought to have him declared incompetent to stand trial in the arson case, but a judge ruled in April 2020 that he was competent to go forward with the proceedings, according to the news station.
He was free from the hospital for just eight months before his fire-related arrest. Prosecutors seek to have his conditional release revoked now that the arson case is concluding.
Bashir had been released in 2018 from the Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute to an apartment setting that included regular supervision. One of the conditions of his release was that he receive psychiatric treatment five days a week.
The arson victim was the supervisor of the agency tasked with monitoring Bashir’s compliance with those conditions, WTOP reported. She was also the doctor treating him as required by the court.
Along with intensive treatment, the conditions of Bashir’s release included a requirement to stay on antipsychotic medication to treat his schizophrenia.
The Washington Post reported that Bashir later admitted he was not taking his medication the day he set the fire at his therapist’s home.
He was also accused of attempting to set a fire at a second mental health provider’s home, and he was allegedly tracking a third provider’s movements via tracking software. A tracking device was later found installed on the third woman’s vehicle, WTOP reported.
The attempted arson charge was dismissed Tuesday because prosecutors could not prove it was Bashir who poured gasoline on the second therapist’s car, according to the news station.
Court records obtained by the Post indicated that in the days before the fire, Bashir admitted he had become “overly preoccupied” with his therapist. A Feb. 4, 2019, report noted that he had “demonstrated difficulties in maintaining professional boundaries with treatment providers.”
Prosecutors said in 2019 that a Nest security camera at a neighbor’s house recorded footage at 4:23 a.m. Feb. 6 of Bashir walking up his therapist’s driveway. About 15 minutes later, the camera caught flames and smoke coming from the corner of her garage.
Arson investigators found melted plastic bottles in mulch at the fire scene that were similar to bottles found in Bashir’s home.
Along with the arson, attempted arson and stalking charges, Bashir was accused of obtaining multiple handguns. As someone who had been found not guilty by reason of insanity, he was prohibited from possessing firearms.
Watch NBC Washington’s report on Tuesday’s hearing below.
A 2019 report by WTOP indicated that Bashir had illegally bought two guns and two suppressors, commonly known as silencers. The Virginia State Police said “human error” led to Bashir’s name being left off the agency’s “do not sell” list.
Bashir admitted to visiting a gun range shortly before his arrest, NBC Washington reported. Surveillance footage showed him there, practicing his shooting with the guns he had bought.
A search of his apartment turned up two loaded 9 mm handguns, a silencer and a book with a bullet hole in it, the NBC affiliate reported in 2019. Searches found on Bashir’s computer included “how to build dynamite,” “how to get a gun without a background check” and “top five sniper rifles.”
“I don’t think there’s any way to portray it other than a tragedy narrowly averted,” Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said at the time.
A life-altering encounter
Stalking allegations were nothing new for Bashir, who was accused of stalking a woman the day he and Laboy crossed paths in 2013. According to the Post, Bashir had acted strangely Feb. 26, the day before the shooting, while in the Stuart Nordin Design studio in Alexandria’s Old Town district.
Doctors later testified at Bashir’s trial that the cab driver, prompted by voices he heard in his head, believed that his brain was being “reprogrammed,” and that to “move toward some sort of higher state of being,” he had to commit robbery and rape, then shoot a police officer, the Post reported.
Bashir had planned to rape one of the workers that day but the woman successfully persuaded him to leave, locking the door behind him.
Bashir drove his yellow minivan cab back to the design studio the next day, again planning to carry out the assault, but spotted a police officer inside speaking to an employee. When the officer spotted the cab, he gestured for the driver to pull over.
Bashir fled instead, the newspaper reported.
Laboy, who had heard the radio call about Bashir’s cab, spotted the vehicle and pulled him over about a half-mile down the road, outside Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy. As children played on the school playground, Laboy started to dismount his motorcycle.
Bashir shot the officer once in the head before Laboy’s feet were both on the ground, according to authorities.
The gunman was caught a short time later in Fairfax County after taking Laboy’s colleagues on a high-speed chase.
Laboy, a father of four who had been a police officer for 17 years, suffered a “catastrophic wound,” MedStar Washington Hospital Center doctors said at the time. The bullet, which entered through his temple, broke apart and devastated the part of the brain that controlled his speech and the ability to move his arms and legs.
It also hit the areas responsible for personality and executive functioning.
“It’s actually quite remarkable he’s alive,” Dr. Janis Orlowski said, according to the Post. “Obviously, he’s a very fit gentleman.”
Laboy relearned how to walk and talk but was left profoundly changed by the shooting. The bullet to his brain altered his personality to the point that his marriage ended in divorce.
“The person that was there, he’s no longer there,” Laboy’s ex-wife told the newspaper in 2018. “He’s not the same person anymore.”
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