HPD looking for any enemies of murdered med student/Iranian protestor: FBI notinvolved yet
Houston Police Department is asking the public for any information regarding the fatal shooting of an M.D. Anderson medical student late Sunday night.
Gelareh Bagherzadeh — a 30-year-old who also protested against the Iranian government — was shot once through the passenger's window of her car while driving through her Galleria-area residential complex at 12:30 a.m. Monday morning.
As of yet, investigators have found no indication that she was specifically targeted and have no known suspects or motives. The victim's cell phone and purse remained in the car when police arrived.
"Right now, we need people to come forward with information," HPD spokesperson Victor Senties told CultureMap. "We need anything they may have."
A known activist for women's rights in Iran, the Bagherzadeh was liked and well respected within the city's Iranian community. In 2010, she helped found SabzHouston, a organization focused on promoting political justice in Iran.
"Does she have any enemies? Was there anyone who threatened her just prior to the incident?"
At a press conference for Houston Crime Stoppers, the victim's brother Ali Bagherzadeh told reporters his family didn't believe the shooting was a political matter. No evidence of political motivation has surfaced.
However, Houston investigators remain open to all possibilities and are sharing information with the FBI.
Special agent Shauna Dunlap from the Houston FBI office told CultureMap that there has been no need for the agency's involvement in the case as of yet beyond the sharing of information.
According to an HPD report, almost two years ago, on Feb. 7, 2010 at 1:45 a.m., Bagherzadeh was assaulted along the 8100 block of the Katy Freeway by a close male friend who grabbed her by the hair and forced her to kiss him several times. The friend was cleared of charges at the time, but the police are hoping to speak with him.
"Does she have any enemies? Was there anyone who threatened her just prior to the incident?" HPD sergeant J.C. Padilla said at a press conference Wednesday. "We want to know those types of things, because we want to talk to any suspects that may have threatened her." Police also have interviewed the victim's ex-boyfriend, with whom the victim was speaking late Sunday evening when she was shot, as well as her current boyfriend. Neither is a suspect.
A memorial service was held Wednesday night at the Second Baptist Church on Woodway, where Bagherzadeh attended a meeting for group called Persians for Jesus Christ after she converted to Christianity.
Due to the sensitivity of the case, leaders at Second Baptist said they were unable to speak about Bagherzadeh and her involvement in the church.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers, which is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, at 713-222-TIPS.