Authorities identify man believed to have killed one business associate and wounded another before shooting himself in Cathedral City

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Personal Injury News

Article Date: 11/6/2009 | Resource: MLG

Authorities identify man believed to have killed one business associate and wounded another before shooting himself in Cathedral City

Authorities today identified the man they believe killed a business associate and wounded another partner before fatally shooting himself at an upscale Cathedral City car rental agency the three ran.

Police and coroner’s investigators believe Seyed M. Sajasi of Palm Desert shot Joe N. Khachigian of Northridge and Setrak “Steve” Balabanian of Los Angeles before turning the gun on himself following a business meeting.

The shootings occurred around 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Luxury Rent-A-Car, 68350 E. Palm Canyon Drive, said Lt. Glen Haas of the Cathedral City Police Department.

Sajasi, 53, and Khachigian, 49, were declared dead at the scene. Balabanian, 44, remains hospitalized, but his condition was unavailable.

Sajasi and Balabanian were partners in the luxury rental car business and had been in a meeting that morning at the office with two other men, Haas said.

Khachigian was the cousin of the injured man and was also apparently associated with the business, Haas said.

“During the meeting, apparently there was some type of a falling-out,” he said last week.

The lieutenant said surveillance video showed that Sajasi went into a room in the building, came back with a gun and shot Khachigian, who died instantly, and shot Balabanian twice before turning the gun on himself.

“He came out and immediately started shooting,” Haas said, adding that the gunfire lasted no longer than 10 seconds.

A fourth person — the business’ manager — was inside the showroom for the meeting when the gunfire erupted, but was not injured, according to Haas.

Police are trying to piece together a motive for the slaying. “There is nothing that would suggest that (Sajasi) was attacked,” Haas said, adding that the disagreement appeared to be over a business decision.

“It doesn’t sound like everything was falling apart (at the company),” Haas said. “It was a decision that was clearly unpopular.”

Investigators were researching the origin and the history of the pistol Sajasi used in the shooting.

According to the company’s Web site, the Los Angeles-based business was started in 2001 to provide high-end vehicles to corporate leaders and “renowned personalities.”

The business has locations throughout Southern California, including Santa Monica, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Marina del Rey and Newport Beach, and also has branches in Las Vegas and Phoenix, according to the Web site.

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Jeffrey Marquart