Shot while driving
Mourners held a vigil at Waterwall Park on Monday night for Gelareh Bagherzadeh, a medical student who was fatally shot while driving in front of a townhome she shared with her parents in the Galleria area.
Investigators say the victim, who studied molecular genetic technology at M.D Anderson, was driving through her residential complex on the 800-block of Augusta Sunday night when an unknown assailant walked up to the passenger's side window and shot her in the head.
Bagherzadeh was well-know in the protest community, particularly for her outspoken support of Iranian women's rights.
Bagherzadeh was discovered slumped over the driver's seat when Houston Police Department officers arrived at the scene around 12:30 a.m. early Monday morning, after responding to reports of gunfire. The car had crashed through the garage door of a nearby property, its engine still running and tires still spinning. Paramedics quickly arrived and pronounced her dead.
According to an official HPD statement, officers responded to a similar call about a discharged firearm at the same location less than an hour before the shooting at 11:40 p.m. Sunday night. HPD found no evidence of any discharged weapons at that time.
Bagherzadeh, who was 29 or 30 years old, was speaking on the phone to her ex-boyfriend, with whom she remained close according to friends, only moments before the attack. He spoke with investigators willingly after the incident, according to police officials, noting that he heard over the phone what may have been the car crash or gunfire.
A founding member member of SabzHouston, a grassroots organization that urges for political change in Iran, Bagherzadeh was well-know in the protest community, particularly for her outspoken support of Iranian women's rights. She appeared in an online video filmed by the Houston Chronicle in 2010 for her participation in a series of protests against the Ahmadinejad government. During the interview, she, like many other protesters, refrained from using her last name for fear of persecution.
"At the moment, our investigators are trying to confirm whether she was followed," HPD spokesperson Victor Senties told CultureMap, noting that it remained unclear whether her protest background played a role in the murder.
Anyone with information in this case is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.