Suspect’s neighbors surprised by charges

Published 8:52 am Saturday, December 24, 2016


The few neighbors who would speak on the record Friday morning were as surprised as everyone else when they saw and read that Lionel Nelson Williams was arrested the other day on a charge of trying to support a terrorist group.

Williams, 26, was taken to a federal court in Norfolk on Wednesday, this after being arrested during the early afternoon at his apartment in the 6000 block of Mineral Spring Road. He was living in an apartment above the garage, according to an affidavit that had been filed to support the charges.

The document went on to state that Williams sent money in October and November to a person he believed was collecting money for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the militant Islamic group that has claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks around the world, including in the United States.

Williams also ordered an AK-47 assault rifle on the day after the terror attack in San Bernardino, Calif., on Dec. 2, 2015.

One neighbor across the road would not comment, while another several yards down — Alan Peterson — said he didn’t even know that Williams was living in the apartment.

I knew his grandfather; he was a really nice guy,” Peterson recalled.

Lonnie Hodges, who lives next door, called Williams and the family “good neighbors. Very friendly.” “I was very surprised [at the news],” Hodges said, adding that he had not yet spoken to them.

At the residence, the man who answered the door politely said he would not speak about the matter.

Williams, who also went by “Harun Ash-Shababi,” is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Norfolk, according to information provided by U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente.

RES SPEARS III and TRACY AGNEW, both of the Suffolk News-Herald, also contributed to this article.