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The Daily Tar Heel

Man charged with Scroggs Elementary shooting

All eyes in the courtroom Tuesday rested on the man charged with shooting a woman outside Mary Scroggs Elementary School, as he made his first public appearance in court since his arrest.

Ali Cherfaoui, 49, has been charged with first-degree murder for the death of Chahnaz Kebaier, 40.

On Tuesday, Cherfaoui went before District Court Judge Beverly Scarlett for an arraignment hearing. He is being held without bond in the Orange County Jail.

If convicted, Cherfaoui, whose address is listed as N.C. 54 in Carrboro, could face the death penalty or life in prison.

Orange County has not successfully pursued the death penalty in any court case since its reinstatement at the county level in 1977.

The last man from Orange County to be executed was John H. Breeze, who was convicted of murder and executed in 1948.

At the hearing, Scarlett upheld a domestic protective order that prevents Cherfaoui from having any contact with the children he had with Kebaier.

Kebaier, of Copperline Drive in Chapel Hill, worked as a research associate at the UNC Center for Infectious Diseases.

Cherfaoui is not allowed to come into any contact with Kebaier’s family.

Cherfaoui qualifies for a public defender and a review date for the probable cause hearing has been set for June 11. He is being represented by James Williams.

On Friday, Chapel Hill police responded to a report of a shooting incident that occurred outside Scroggs Elementary at 2:08 p.m. The school was locked down immediately, until Cherfaoui was taken into custody.

No children or school personnel were harmed during the incident.

Shortly after the shooting was reported, officers stopped Cherfaoui — who was driving a black Chevy Impala — on U.S. 15-501 near Raleigh Road and found a gun inside his vehicle.

Kebaier was shot multiple times in the head and body. She was admitted to UNC Hospitals Emergency Room, but died from her injuries only hours later at 4:08 p.m.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt released a statement Saturday expressing his sympathy for those who knew Kebaier in person.

“We are in shock and grieve for the loss of a resident, and for the family, friends and acquaintances of Chahnaz Kebaier,” he said.

“Our prayers go up for them and the entire Scroggs School family,” Kleinschmidt said. “We are deeply saddened and are very sorry this happened.”

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