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If you’ve been busy with presents, Honey-baked hams, and too much eggnog, you might have missed a story out of Grapevine, Texas, where seven people died in what the authorities at first called “an apparent murder-suicide.” Now that the smoke is clearing and some IDs have been made, we know a lot more. And if you think seven people dying on Christmas is weird, you might wanna sit down for this one: Santa did it

Okay, not the big guy in the red, fur-trimmed suit, but a sick sonofabitch in a Santa suit, in this case, one Aziz Yazdanpanah, who killed himself after shooting six others. Seems that Aziz, who originally hailed from Iran, got dressed up as Santa, armed himself with a Smith & Wesson 915 and Glock 23, and went to visit what appears to be his estranged family. Reports say both guns were discharged “multiple times” but were not reloaded. Let’s see…a S&W 915 is more-or-less a budget version of the model 95. In 9mm, it can take a 10 or 15 round magazine. The Glock 23 fires .40 S&W, and comes with a standard 13-round magazine, but you can opt for 15/17 round mags, too. Worst case, scenario, Yazdanpanah walked in with 23 rounds, ready to rock. If he maxed out, with one each in the pipe and hi-cap mags in each, I’d put that at 34 rounds. Assuming that nobody expects Santa to walk in, pass out some pressies, then pull two semi-autos and start mowing people down, I’d presume that (unless he was a terrible shot) he ended up taking his own life with a bunch of ammo still ready to go.

Some reports are trickling out that the 56-year-old Yazdanpanah was facing divorce, his home was in foreclosure, and he didn’t approve of his daughter’s choice in boyfriends. Throw in the stress of the holidays, and you have a situation that has been known to result in violence. Add in the culture clash/Middle Eastern values, and I’d argue that Aziz was under even more pressure (although, there are plenty of cases you could cite where the same kind of situation has resulted in a WASP guy going off the reservation, too – I am in no way implying that immigrants from the Middle East have the market cornered on this kind of mental breakdown/tragedy).

Yazdanpanah was invited to the apartment to join a family Christmas celebration, with his estranged wife, 19-year-old daughter, 15-year-old son, his sister-in-law, her husband and daughter. He shot them all, and then turned the gun on himself. Grapevine police report that Aziz had a “history” with the police departments in the area. (Grapevine is one of the cities that make up the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.) It was all over with in a matter of seconds. At 11:16, all was well. At 11:32, 911 operators received a call from the apartment from one of the victims, as they lay dying.

This story touches on a number of memes:

  • The stress of divorce/foreclosure
  • The stress of bankruptcy
  • The stress of the holidays
  • The clash of cultures between American Middle Eastern values
  • The obligatory gun violence stories

What’s missing from this story are some angles the left and right typically trot out in cases like this:

  • The religion angle, a.k.a.: “Were they Muslims?”
  • The guns in the home thing
  • Spousal abuse

I’m sure we’ll know more in the coming weeks. But before people start making a rush to judgement, let’s remember, given enough stress, anybody can go off their nut. Murder/Suicide is not the game plan of a rational mind. However, from the looks of this, you don’t show up at a Christmas party dressed as Santa, packin’ two semi-autos if you don’t do some serious planning, a.k.a. “premeditation.” If I were a betting man, I’d wager that culture plays a serious role in this. I’ve worked with/known a number of people from the Middle East, and the role of a male as absolute ruler of the family is not a thing they take lightly. If mom and kids moved out, leaving dad to pick up the pieces, still living in their foreclosed-upon home, I can see where the Eastern attitude of “Dad is in charge” might push somebody over the edge. While the paternalism thing is certainly a feature of Islam, I’ve seen that same attitude in the Old World, too. (Admittedly, though, honor killings seem to be unique to Islam.)

Sadly, I can’t think of anything the family could have done to protect themselves from this kind of attack. They obviously didn’t know Aziz was planning to kill them, or they wouldn’t have invited him to the celebration. Even if one or more of the family members had a CHL and had spent time at the range, the whole “element of surprise” thing, with Santa suddenly unleashing a hail of bullets would have likely negated any chance for self-defense. And remember, most people that do carry, don’t do so in their homes.

We may never know exactly why Aziz went Section Eight and killed his entire, extended family. We may or may not learn if he had a conceal carry permit for his weapons, or if he bought them at a gun show. I can only attribute the lack of Left-wing rants on this case to the fact that everyone seems to be busy with holiday things. Any way you slice it, this is a tragedy. But I’m not sure that there are any constructive lessons we can take away from this, other than sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to stop a tragedy.


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    • Perhaps. I don’t know about you, but unless the guy had a history of violence or was acting really strange before he pulled the guns, I think this would fall under the category of “I did not see that coming” from just about everybody. When you think about it, a bunch of people, relaxed, sitting around a living room in an apartment (which just about guarantees “small, enclosed space” and “no cover”) looks like a target-rich environment that most closely resembles shooting ducks in a barrel. If I’d been there, even if I was carrying, I wouldn’t like my odds of being able to stop the guy before he killed everyone. The premeditation angle sounds as if he had a plan. If he’d thought this through, he would have gone for the brother-in-law first, then the wife and sister-in-law, then the niece, finishing up with the two kids – starting with those most likely to carry and ending with those least able to defend themselves. The shock value of the Santa suit, the guns, and watching people you know die before your eyes is not to be discounted, either. If you look at what happened with Gabby Giffords, that was over in, what, 30 seconds or so? I doubt anybody but a trained expert in self-defense would have had even a 50-50 chance at survival. Just too many factors that would have caused everyone to let down their guard.

      • This.

        Carrying a gun doesn’t mean that you really have a chance when you’re in a restaurant and a madman comes in shooting people.

        What it DOES mean, is that, if you aren’t one of the initial victims, you have a chance of stopping the gunman starting within maybe a minute of when you realize there is an active shooter.

        In short, it isn’t about saving everyone, it’s about stopping the madman between minutes 1 and 5, and thus keeping the bodycount down in the single digits (hopefully). You can’t possibly save everyone, but if you can legally engage, or must do so for your own safety, you may be able to save some people who would otherwise die before the police arrive to secure the scene.

  1. Put yourself in the victims’ shoes for a minute. Can you imagine going to Christmas dinner and seeing Dad whip out two pistols and kill your sister and mom right in front of you?

    Unless one is demented its a disturbing thought just to consider in your mind.Seeing it in person is the kind of thing the human mind is simply not built to process.
    By the time the shock wore off you’d be catching a round.

    Even with a firearm at the table the victim would be in a close range contact-distance shootout with a family member. The outcome of everyone in that room going out in body bags likely wouldn’t change even if a member of Delta Force was sitting at that table.

    • Look on the bright side, now those people don’t have to deal with school, working bullshit jobs, job hunting, moron drivers, watching the country continue to become more of a police state, being ass-raped with taxes if they work hard and are successful, etc.

  2. With markedly few exceptions, if I’m dressed I’m armed. All this really means is if a family member were to go Postal, or in this case, go Santa, they’d know enough to shoot me first.

    I agree completely with the issue of surprise, family gatherings at the holidays are frequently times where ‘Festivus’ traditions of Airings of Grievances and Feats of Strength take precedence over the more prosaic but expected remembrances of Christmases past and recollections of good times spent as a family. I’ll bet if someone had access to a Lexis/Nexis search and looked for family shootings between Thanksgiving and Christmas the exception is a year where something like this does not happen. Nobody ever seems to think it will happen to them, and thus the surprise when the banging and bleeding happens. In the time it takes to realize that yes, that was a gunshot and yes, that was another, you’re in a twelve-by-ten box with someone coming at you like a bad guy in a John Woo film. The weirdness of it is yet another source of delay.

    • PS: The 915 is the budget version of the S&W 3rd-gen 59xx-series, not the S&W 95. It is a double-stack 9mm, so it could have taken up to 15+1 9mm rounds.

      The bad guy almost always gets the first move in any DGU. You just have to hope he’s distracted or inaccurate, and that you can initiate action before it’s your turn.

  3. Dunno about you, but having grown up in the Detroit area, home to a very large Muslim population, they don’t celebrate Christmas or dress up as Santa. If they were Iraqi, I would say they are Chaldean (Iraqi Christians). They could be Iraqi, but just from Iran as well. There are sects of Iranian Christians also.

  4. This can happen anywhere and not just Muslim families. One thing that never made the National News was a mass family killing in Laurel Indiana last Fall. The killer and his girl friend wiped out about 6 family members execution style with a Ruger LCP. Seems most of the family members had criminal records so the guy may have done the taxpayer a favor.

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