Authorities identify victims in Texas shooting
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Last Updated: Wednesday, December 28, 2011, 14:53
Houston: Marital and financial problems may be the cause of a Christmas Day massacre in Texas by a man dressed as Santa Claus, police have said as the seven dead were identified.

The seven bodies were discovered strewn in the living room area of the Grapevine apartment, amid opened presents and near a Christmas tree.

Suspected shooter Aziz Yazdanpanah, a 56-year-old Iranian-origin man, had been estranged from his wife and two teenage children when they moved out of the family's upscale home in nearby Colleyville earlier this year.

Yazdanpanah showed up to his estranged wife's apartment on Christmas morning dressed like St Nick and opened fire shortly after the family had unwrapped presents. Yazdanpanah then killed himself.

The six victims were identified as: Nasrin Rahmaty, 55, who was Yazdanpanah's wife; Nona Yazdanpanah, 19, his daughter; Ali Yazdanpanah, 15, his son; Zohreh Rahmaty, 58, his sister-in-law; Hossein Zarei, 59, his brother-in-law; and Sahra Zarei, 22, his niece.

On Christmas Eve, the family hosted a party at Zarei's ranch. The gunman was not invited.

Yazdanpanah became the focus of detectives after his sport utility vehicle was found outside the apartment and police believe he made the silent 911 call.

The slayings have shaken friends and neighbors who knew Yazdanpanah and his wife, both of whom were born in Iran, as well as their two US-born children.

"The Persian community is devastated," said Mashy Modjdehi, a friend of Yazdanpanah's wife.

Grapevine police spokesman Robert Eberling said that detectives believe Yazdanpanah's marital and financial troubles led him to kill his family.

Rahmati, known to family and friends as Nasrin, had filed for bankruptcy in August 2010, and she told her attorney she hoped the proceedings would stave off foreclosure of the home where the family had lived for more than a decade.

"She worked hard to keep the family together, but he wasn't willing to do anything," Modjdehi said.

Yazdanpanah had been having financial troubles after his real estate business slowed down and had reportedly filed for bankruptcy.

Grapevine, a town that sits on 16 square miles near Dallas, was still in a state of shock, Eberling said. The last homicide in the town was in 2010.


First Published: Wednesday, December 28, 2011, 14:53

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