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Saturday, August 28, 2010

West Hollywood, CA - Detectives Probe Triple Homicide of 3 Iranian Jews

West Hollywood, CA - Authorities are searching for clues in the killing of three men who were shot in a West Hollywood apartment.

The victims, including two brothers, were killed shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday, and their killer or killers got away without anyone seeing them, sheriff’s Detective Bill Marsh said.

The coroner’s office identified the victims as Pirooz (AKA: Petey) Moussazadeh, 27, his brother, Shahriar Moussazadeh, 38, and Bernard Khalili, 27.

Residents of the 612 Kings Road Arms apartments building heard what they thought were firecrackers going off in apartment 204. They called the apartment manager, who went to investigate and found the door open and a body inside.

Deputies found two more bodies in the apartment. All three men were in different places in the open-plan unit. No weapons were found, and there were no immediate clues as to why the men were targeted, authorities said.

At least two of the men lived in the apartment.

Marsh said the men likely knew whoever killed them. There was no sign of a struggle, and the door had not been forced open.

All three victims were members of the Iranian Jewish community and moved to the U.S. as young children, said Pooya Dayanim, president of the Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee.

“These are three guys who happen to be Persian Jews who happen to have been murdered,” Marsh said.

The victims were not wealthy, and family members told him they had no criminal pasts, Dayanim said.

“The only thing that sticks out is there was nothing significant about them,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that the killings were the second tragedy to hit the Khalili family in less than two years. In 2008, Bernard Khalili’s sister, Bianca Khalili, fell to her death from a Century City high-rise. Authorities ruled it a suicide.

A cousin, who was not named, told the Times Bernard Khalili was like a brother to him.

“My cousin was always a very kind person,” he said. “A very forgiving person.”

According to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation but not authorized to discuss the attack, investigators believe the victims were targeted.

No arrests have been made, but Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Nelson said he is confident investigators will make progress over the weekend.

“I can say that we are throwing a lot of resources at this case,” he wrote in an e-mail, adding that some of the department’s most experienced investigators worked the case throughout Thursday night. “Their efforts included scene sketches, photographs, latent print searches, firearms experts, and testing for biological evidence.”

There was no sign of forced entry or struggle, deputies said, and no drugs or weapons were found at the scene.

Relatives and friends of Khalili, who was part of a close-knit Persian community on the Westside, struggled with the news.
They overflowed from the Khalili family’s Westwood home, many crying.

Through relatives, Khalili’s parents declined to comment, but a cousin of Khalili’s said the 27-year-old was a gentle soul. The two, he said, grew up like brothers.

“My cousin was always a very kind person,” he said. “A very forgiving person.”

As the West Hollywood apartment was taped off for further investigation, neighbors remained startled by the news. The 28-unit building is filled with immigrants from Iran, Israel and Russia. Residents said there was a high turnover of tenants in the building, which has a “For Rent” sign posted outside.

Maurice Chriqui, who lives next door to where the slayings took place, said he had just arrived home from a business trip to Seattle to find his wife upset.

“Thank God, you’re home,” she told him. “I just heard some shots.”

Soon, Chriqui said, deputies flooded their quiet neighborhood with patrol cars and two ambulances. A sheriff’s helicopter circled overhead.

Chriqui, who has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years, said he was shocked. “What a shame to have three people dead,” he said.

The apartment building was said to be generally secure and peaceful. Investigators were seeking to speak with anyone who may have seen or heard anything.

West Hollywood is northwest of downtown Los Angeles

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