08/23/2006

Calif. police end a standoff with rubber bullets, find two bodies

Garrett Therolf, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times
Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved

A 49-year-old man fatally stabbed two women in his Irvine home and then held off police for more than 90 minutes early Tuesday before being wounded in a volley of rubber bullets, authorities said.

The man's two daughters, 6 and 8, were found uninjured in the home.

The predawn standoff placed the affluent neighborhood under siege by a crush of SWAT team members and crisis negotiators. Some residents were asked to evacuate.

Bahram "Ben" Nezari was apparently motivated by growing turmoil with his wife, Nooshin Mirabadi Khaneh, said Lt. Rick Handfield, who declined to identify the dead women or say whether Nezari's wife was one of them.

Neighbor Tina Wilke said, "We were just bombarded with police and SWAT teams and command centers, and I was wondering, 'Where did this come from?' "

Nezari was described by neighbors as a jovial sort who greeted them with cheerful hellos and neighborly smiles.

Neighbor Rhonda Page said that on Monday evening, he had greeted her and another neighbor while they played with a dog outside. She said he asked if he could borrow the pet sometime for his daughters.

By 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, two men who are members of Nezari's extended family had appeared at the Irvine Police Department, saying they believed an incident had occurred at his home, Handfield said.

Police said they quickly surrounded the home and made a phone call to Nezari in which he promised to meet them at the front door.

Instead, after being confronted by police, he fled out the back door and barricaded himself in his backyard behind pool equipment.

After a 90-minute standoff, police shot him twice in the head with rubber bullets and took him to a hospital for treatment. He was later booked on suspicion of murder and remained hospitalized Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, some neighbors were forced to evacuate the area. Some took refuge at a nearby Denny's. During a search of Nezari's home, police found his daughters and the two bodies.

Several women familiar with the family arrived after daybreak and collapsed in grief when they met police. Family members, though, declined to discuss the violence that had occurred inside the home.

Public records show that Nezari was born in Iran and immigrated to the United States. In 1984, he became a citizen, and business records show that he operated a trucking company out of his home.

Neighbors said he was always home and that his wife, who made extended visits to Iran, was otherwise at home as well.

"Ben was always dressed casually because I don't think he ever worked," Page said.

In 1998, he declared bankruptcy. By 2004, he had apparently rebounded and placed a down payment of about $200,000 on the Tioga Place house he bought for almost $1 million.

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