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'Greatest day' for family after suspect in 18-year-old's 1994 murder finally caught

The suspect, Muhammed Bilal El-Amin, begged deputies to let him go; they soon learned he was wanted for the 1994 homicide of 18-year-old Jafferd Tucker in Atlanta.

ATLANTA — Friday night, the grieving loved ones of an Atlanta teen who was shot and killed nearly 28 years ago went to sleep, for the first time since 1994, knowing that the fugitive who was accused of killing him is finally in jail.

The suspect was on the run all that time, wanted by the FBI and Atlanta Police, accused of killing 18-year-old Jafferd Tucker in Atlanta in 1994.

On Tuesday, sharp-eyes deputies just east of Atlanta, in Oconee County, captured the fugitive during a routine traffic stop.

Oconee County Deputy Devan Blair was on patrol doing random vehicle registration checks, and she stopped a car that had come up in the tag check as having an expired registration.

She didn’t know, at first, that the driver she stopped is Muhammed Bilal El-Amin, who’d been running from an Atlanta Police murder warrant, accusing him of shooting his friend, Jafferd Tucker, at the Oakland City MARTA station in southwest Atlanta on November 27, 1994.

RELATED: Man wanted for nearly 28 years in Atlanta murder finally captured during routine traffic stop

Deputy Blair's body cam video shows that when she stopped the driver, he gave her what turned out to be a fake name.

Credit: wxia

Deputy Lex Ogan arrived as back-up, and the deputies explained to the driver that they were arresting him for the expired registration, for no insurance, and for a suspended South Carolina driver's license that he had claimed was his.

That license was under the name Rais Sekhem, which the driver claimed was his name.

The driver pleaded with the deputies simply to give him citations for the offenses and let him go, but they told him the law required them to take him into custody.

“I beg you, I beg of you all,” he said, “I have children, I have a sick uncle and I run the household.... I’m not a criminal, I’m not a crook.”

Soon he was being booked into the Oconee County Jail, “and once his fingerprints were run, it came back with a hit from the Atlanta P.D. for the fugitive warrant that they had on him from 1994,” said Oconee County Sheriff James Hale.

His real ID: Muhammed Bilal El-Amin, 47, the man Jafferd Tucker’s uncle, Ernest Cook, had devoted the past 28 years of his life trying, along with police, to find.

“I think that today was his worst day ever,” Cook said on Friday, speaking of El-Amin’s capture the previous Tuesday, “and it is the greatest day for me and my family.”

Credit: Provided by Family
Jafferd Tucker, 18, who was shot to death in 1994

Cook remembers his nephew as out-going and easy-going, who dreamed of a career in the music industry.

Cook said Tucker and El-Amin had met each other only a short time before that day they were together at the MARTA station, where, according to police, El-Amin, then 19, suddenly pulled out a gun, shot Tucker in the face, and ran.

Cook, who describes his nephew as like a little brother to him, said he had, himself, once met El-Amin briefly, and later was able to help police review security cam video in the MARTA station. Cook said he identified El-Amin from those images.

“I’ve always wanted to ask him.” Cook said, “what did my nephew do to him so terrible, to make him want to take his life?’

Investigators were not able to discuss, yet, how El-Amin was able to elude capture until now.

On Friday, Cook and Sheriff Hale talked on the phone, and Cook thanked the Sheriff and his deputies.

“I think, you know, the good Lord looks after everybody,” Sheriff Hale said, “and eventually, if you’re wanted, your time is going to run out sooner or later, especially if people are paying attention... It means a lot to know that (we were) some small, pivotal part of this case.... this is the pinnacle of what we do, is to be able to help solve crimes and bring the people that commit these crimes to justice,” for the victims and their families.

Cook said Tucker’s mother - Cook's sister - died in 2006 praying for El-Amin’s capture.

“I’m out to see that justice is served on this case, because it’s 28 years in the making," he said. "My sister’s gone and, you know, he has siblings that are still alive, and I want justice for them, as well.”

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