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.