GRAPEVINE — Aziz Yazdanpanah seemed to be losing control of his life in recent months — his wife left him, his house was in foreclosure, and his 19-year-old daughter was dating a young man he didn’t like.
Even so, the 58-year-old former real estate agent from Colleyville seemed to be holding it together. Neighbors say he would smile and wave as he drove through his middle-class neighborhood. Recently, he was seen raking leaves in his yard.
“He was very friendly, a very good neighbor,” said Carrie Stewart, who lives across the street. “He was out here often doing yard work and he even watched our house for us when we went to Colorado.”
Yazdanpanah, a volunteer high school debate coach described as a doting father, is the focus of suspicion a day after a Christmas morning massacre in which a man dressed as Santa Claus killed six relatives and then committed suicide.
Grapevine police arrived at the Lincoln Vineyard Apartment Homes a few minutes before noon and discovered bodies sprawled among opened presents and wrapping paper. The victims were ages 15 to 58....
Citing public records and interviews with friends and neighbors, media reports Monday identified Yazdanpanah and others who had died: his estranged 55-year-old wife, Fatemeh Rahmati, their 19-year-old daughter, Nona Narges Yazdanpanah, and 15-year-old son, Ali Yazdanpanah.
Friends of the family said Fatemeh Rahmati’s 58-year-old sister, Zohreh Rahmaty, and her husband, Hossein Zarei, 59, and daughter Sahra Zarei, a 22-year-old pre-med student at the University of Texas at Arlington, also were killed.
Grapevine police Lt. Todd Dearing said investigators were working to piece together a timeline of the murders, but they may never know exactly what set off the gunman.
“Motive is not really the primary point right now,” Dearing said. “It’s more along the lines of what happened, how it transpired and making sure that who we believe to be the shooter is the shooter. Motive is what comes afterward for us if we can get it.”
He said a neighbor at the apartment complex saw the suspected shooter get out of his white sport utility vehicle dressed in a Santa outfit, including a full coat, pants, boots and belt. Based in part on that witness account, police believe the shootings occurred about the time a 911 call rang into the station at 11:34 a.m. Sunday.
The line was silent....
Grapevine police also searched the Colleyville home where Aziz Yazdanpanah had been living since he separated from his wife last spring. Public records show that the couple had filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and that the property was in foreclosure....
Yazdanpanah said he bought a gun after expressing concern that his daughter’s boyfriend was stalking him. He also insisted on picking up his daughter from her job at a phone kiosk inside Sam’s Club in Grapevine because of concerns about the alleged stalker.
The boyfriend has not been publicly identified.
Neighbors said the family was Muslim but had always hung Christmas lights on their home — except this year.
Terri Baum, who lives three homes down from Yazdanpanah, said she had seen him around the neighborhood in the last couple of weeks.
“They were pretty quiet, but kind, very kind,” Baum said. “They were sweet, good parents, and they loved their kids very much.”
Baum’s daughter, Allison, attended Colleyville Heritage High School with Nona, where the girls were part of an academic team focused on developing business leaders. They graduated together in May.
“Allison would take her to school from here, and then when they moved out she would pick her up from the apartments,” Baum said. “It’s unbelievable because of the people we knew them to be, and their children were good kids, very focused.”
Baum said she was horrified at the possibility the killings had been a murder-suicide.
“All I want to say is, it is so unbelievably shocking because they loved their kids,” Baum said.
But a more ominous portrait emerged of Yazdanpanah in interviews with some of his daughter’s other classmates.
“She would come to school crying and telling us her dad was crazy,” said Lacie Reed, 18. “He wouldn’t let her wear certain things. He was always taking her phone away, checking her call history and checking her text messages.”
Friends said Nona’s father had installed cameras all around the home so he could watch the family’s comings and goings. Others said he nailed her bedroom window shut so she could not sneak out at night and see her boyfriend.
“She couldn’t date at all until she was a certain age, but when he was going to let her date she couldn’t date anyone outside of their race or religion,” Reed said.
Yiselle Alvarenga, 18, said Nona’s mother and brother seemed to come to her aid when her father punished her.
“He would take her phone away and her mother would give it back to her and her brother would let her use his phone,” Alvarenga said. “She was doing good. She was just excited that her life was going to start and she was going to have control of it.”...