Alleged gunman in Grapevine massacre had past with police

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by CYNTHIA VEGA

WFAA

Posted on December 27, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 27 at 9:10 PM

Seven dead

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GRAPEVINE - Police in Grapevine now say the gunman who shot and killed six people before turning the gun on himself arrived at a Christmas celebration ready to kill.

The shooter arrived at an apartment where a family was celebrating the holidays armed with two handguns, which were both used, catching his victims by surprise, police said Tuesday morning.

Family friends told News 8 the alleged gunman is Azizolah Yazdanpanah, 56. Police said he showed up at the apartment dressed as Santa Claus and as a welcome guest for the family's Christmas celebration sometime before 11:15 a.m.

He then allegedly shot and killed his estranged wife, Fatemeh Rahmati, 55, their 19-year old-daughter Nona and 15-year-old son Ali. Also fatally shot were his sister-in-law, Zohreh Rahmaty, 58;  her husband Mohamad Zarei, 59; and their 22-year-old daughter Sara Zarei.

The medical examiner confirmed the identities of the victims Tuesday, describing the fatal wounds to each:

  • Azizolah Yazdanpanah died of a gunshot wound to the head.
  • Ali Yazdanpanah died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
  • Nona Yazdanpanah died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
  • Zohreh Rahmaty died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
  • Mohamad Zarei died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head, chest and abdomen.
  • Fatemeh Rahmati died of a gunshot wound to the head.
  • Sara Zarei died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head.

Police said the gunman was the fourth person to arrive at the apartment that day, with the three other relatives arriving afterwards. Police discovered that at 11:16 a.m. there were no signs of trouble after learning that one of the relatives had sent a friend a text saying there was someone dressed as Santa Claus at the gathering, but with no mention of anything being wrong.

With that information, police said they were able to determine the shootings happened between 11:16 a.m. and 11:32 a.m. The gunman used two handguns with multiple rounds so that he wouldn't have to reload.  

Police also said they once again listened to the 911 call that came in at 11:34 a.m. from a landline inside the apartment where the shootings happened. They said they do not know who called for help, but could hear someone a muffled voice saying, "Help me, help me," followed by muffled breathing before the line cut off after about 30 seconds.

The six victims and the gunman were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds in the living room of the apartment. Police said the massacre happened right after family members opened presents from under the Christmas tree.

Police said they still don't have a motive for the killings, but said the gunman does have a history with police. Detectives aren't saying in what way, but said they are now working with other police departments as they continue to investigate the city's deadliest murder case ever.

Family friends said the Yazdanpanahs separated in March and Fatemeh and her two children moved into a Grapevine apartment. Court records showed Aziz was still living in the family's Colleyville home nearby, which had been foreclosed on last year. Court records also show Aziz had filed for bankruptcy.

There will be a memorial in the victims' honor Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Parr Park in Grapevine.

E-mail cvega@wfaa.com

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