Following last month’s violent stabbing that left a 62-year-old Iranian Jewish businessman dead in his downtown Los Angeles jewelry store, Los Angeles police have recently released photos and information about the potential suspect in the case.
According to a brief report from the Los Angeles police department, the suspect was inside the victim’s store for approximately six minutes where he stabbed the jewelry store owner several times and then fled the store on foot carrying a white grocery bag.
“The suspect is described as a 30- to 40-year-old male Hispanic,” stated the police report. “He stands approximately five feet six inches to five feet eight inches tall and weighs approximately 160 to 180 pounds.”
While L.A. police did not name the victim, the City’s Coroner’s report last month identified him as Eshagh Natanzadeh of Beverly Hills who died after receiving multiple sharp force injuries to his chest.
A spokesperson for the L.A. police department declined to comment as to a potential motive for the murder or other information regarding the case, but asked for the public’s help in identifying Natanzadeh’s killer.
Natanzadeh’s family members declined to comment on the case, but friends close to them indicated many in the community are trying their best to comfort them. “This family is in a very painful situation right now because they have had tragedies in this past before this murder,” said Dara Abaei, who heads the L.A.-based, Jewish Unity Network, an Iranian Jewish non-profit group. “Right now, friends of the family are trying to comfort them as best as possible and offer support.”
Sharyar Soleymani, an Iranian Jewish jewelry store owner who has worked in downtown L.A.’s Jewelry District for 35 years, said he had known Natanzadeh and his brother, Habib for more than 15 years. Soleymani said he spoke to Habib right after the murder who told him that no jewelry was stolen from Natanzadeh’s store, and the suspect was likely a past customer or a person known to Natanzadeh.
Kamran Shakibkhou, an L.A. area friend of the Natanzadeh family, set up a “GoFundMe” page online for the family which has raised more than $60,000 since Natanzadeh’s murder last month. The local Iranian Jewish community has faced similar tragedy in the past. Two decades ago Masoud Babaei, an Iranian Jewish jewelry store owner in his 60’s, who was shot to death by suspects during an attempted robbery at his downtown L.A. store.
Local Iranian Jewish activists said their community members are still in disbelief after news of Natanzadeh’s murder came out last month but hopeful police would be able to arrest the suspect soon.
“The community is thankful to the authorities who released this photo,” said George Haroonian, an L.A. Iranian Jewish community activist. “We certainly hope it will result in the apprehension of this culprit and his prosecution”.
Karmel Melamed is an award-winning Iranian Jewish journalist, activist and attorney based in Southern California.
L.A. police release photo of suspect in murder of Iranian Jewish businessman