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'I'm shooting people': Man who allegedly shot family calls 911 [Audio]

December 29, 2011 | 11:22 am

A memorial is held for victims of a Christmas Day shooting in Texas.

A Texas man can be heard whispering to a 911 operator, "I'm shooting people," from a Dallas-area home where seven family members were killed on Christmas Day.

Police in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine originally thought the call was just an open 911 line but later enhanced the audio on the recording, revealing the voice.

"The newly discovered audio was not heard on the original audio software over many playbacks, and was not heard/understood by the dispatcher who took the call on Sunday," Grapevine police Lt. Todd Dearling said in a statement released to the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.

AUDIO: 911 call

At the start of the call, a man believed to be the shooter initially gasps, "Help, help!"

"You need help? Are you sick?" the dispatcher says.

His chilling response, in a low whisper:

"I'm shooting people."

"What was that?" the dispatcher responds, "Do you need an ambulance or police? Hello?"

No response can be heard.

ApartmentsPolice responded to the call from a Grapevine apartment complex and found the bodies, surrounded by opened Christmas presents. The town is known as the Christmas Capital of Texas.

Investigators now believe Azizolah "Bob" Yazdanpanah, 56, who came to the apartment dressed as Santa Claus, shot his family before fatally shooting himself. He was found holding a 9-millimeter pistol, and although his brother-in-law was also holding a 40-caliber pistol, police believe Yazdanpanah placed the gun in his hand before shooting himself, according to Grapevine police Sgt. Robert Eberling.

"We believe based on the investigation that he staged it there," Eberling told The Times.

Among the dead were Yazdanpanah's estranged wife, Fatemeh Rahmaty, 55; son, Ali Yazdanpanah, 14; and daughter, Nona Yazdanpanah, 19; Zohreh Ramahty, 58, Fatemeh Rahmaty's sister, and her husband, Mohamad Hossein Zarei, 59; and their daughter, Sara Fatemeh Zarei, 22.

Yazdanpanah, a volunteer high school debate coach and real estate agent who also went by "Aziz," had separated from his wife earlier this year and declared bankruptcy, investigators have said. But that did not immediately explain the shooting, Eberling said.

"We might not have any idea of what absolutely motivated him," Eberling said, adding, "We still have some folks to speak with and some evidence to go through."

A friend told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Yazdanpanah sent her a text earlier this year joking about death in Grapevine.

“What do u call a guy who’s born in Austin and grows up in Dallas and then dies in Grapevine? ......... DEAD," the text said.

"He was always telling a joke," the friend told the Star-Telegram, saying she knew Yazdanpanah from a happy hour group where he appeared to be a lighthearted family man.

"But when he sent me this, I thought it was weird. I didn't even respond," said the friend, who asked not to be identified.

Sara Fatemeh Zarei, Yazdanpana's niece who was among the victims, sent several text messages to a friend shortly before the shooting, police confirmed.

"So we're here. We just got here and my uncle is here too. Dressed as Santa. Awesome," Zarei texted.

And later:

"Now he wants to be all fatherly and win father of the year."

A memorial page on Facebook has been created, and a candlelight vigil was held Wednesday in a park near the Grapevine apartment complex where the family was killed. Mourners said the family of Iranian immigrants settled in the Dallas area decades ago.

"This is a night of closure and a way to pay our respects," Allison Baum, Nona's best friend, told Reuters at the memorial.

Karim Ghoghaie, who told Reuters that he had known the family for more than 30 years, said relatives from London and Los Angeles arrived on Wednesday to claim the bodies, which will be buried at a private funeral in the Dallas area on Thursday. A separate memorial was also planned in Lanncaster, Texas, on Friday, according to Nona Yazdanpanah's memorial page on Facebook.

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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston

Photos, from top: A candlelight vigil was held in Grapevine, Texas, for the Yazdanpanah family; the Lincoln Vineyard Apartments, where authorities say Aziz Yazandanpanah killed his family and himself on Christmas Day. Credit: Mona Reeder / Dallas Morning News; Rodger Mallison / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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