Jewelry store owner shot, killed during robbery

July 6, 2011 7:00:26 PM PDT
Houston police need your help to find the gunman who shot and killed a jewelry store owner on the city's east side Tuesday night. The shooting happened around 8:15pm on Tuesday at the Java Gold Jewelry store on Yale near West Tidwell.

Police at this point only have a vague description of the suspect, and so right now they are asking for the public's help in catching the killer.

This is certainly not the first time the Java Gold Jewelry store has been targeted by robbers. But this last crime leaves a family in mourning.

Just six months ago, Mehmood Ghaznavi talked to Eyewitness News about the April 2010 robbery at his store. Surveillance video shows the suspects drawing guns and demanding cash and jewelry.

Eyewitness News is not showing the pistol whipping Ghaznavi endured. He told us then he wanted justice.

"These kind of people can hurt anybody beside me. They need to stay in the prison for the rest of their life. At least they're not going to come do the same thing again with somebody else," he said in January.

Two of the suspects were caught, but one got away.

Ghaznavi began keeping a gun in the store to protect himself.

But it happened again. On Tuesday night, one or two men entered the store to rob it. Shots were exchanged, and Ghaznavi was shot in the chest and killed.

But Ghaznavi got off a shot that sent one man to the hospital. It's not clear if that man is a suspect or an innocent bystander. The robber got away.

On Wednesday, a woman who worked for Ghaznavi says he gave her a ride home on Tuesday night.

"We were on the way to my house and someone called him saying he was here and so after that he dropped me off and I guess went back over there, and from there, I didn't hear nothing from him," employee Michelle Varragan said.

For those who knew him in the neighborhood, it's hard to understand why.

"To hear that...that guy had a family," said customer Raymond Strong.

Meanwhile, family gathered at Ghaznavi's home in southwest Houston on Wednesday in mourning. Ghaznavi's brother, Abdullah Ghaznavi, was in shock that a man who'd lived here quietly for more than 15 years is suddenly gone.

"I can't save anybody's life. I cannot save. I don't have nothing; this just happened," Abdullah said.

Those in the community are hoping those responsible will be caught.

"I hope they get caught," said Strong. "You don't take somebody's life."

Authorities recovered a pistol from the scene, believed to have belonged to store owner. They also removed a car from the scene of which they say contained evidence.

Investigators say the man who claimed to be a witness is out of surgery and is expected to be OK.

Authorities don't believe Tuesday night's murder was retaliation from the April 2010 case because one of the suspects is in the Montgomery County Jail, and the other plead guilty. The third suspect in that attack got away.

Police are looking for a suspect described as a black male, possibly in his 20s, approximately 5-foot-11 to 6-feet tall, last seen wearing a white shirt with a yellow baseball cap.

If you have any information on this case you are being asked to call police.

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