Man is haunted by fatal shooting
El Dorado Hills resident says he had no choice but to fire.
By Stan Oklobdzija - firstname.lastname@example.org
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, January 10, 2008
Above the sights of his .45-caliber pistol, Shahin Kohan said, he stared into the eyes of a man whose soul had left him.
Before Kohan was Behnam Pazoki, grasping a kitchen knife still wet with his uncle's blood, yelling in Farsi and English, "Kill me! Shoot me!"
Pazoki's uncle lay in the street, covered in blood and gasping out his last breaths. Another relative who tried to intervene also had been stabbed, and he and his wife were begging Kohan to fire, to save them.
Kohan had fired two warning shots. He prayed police would arrive soon so he wouldn't have to fire a third, more telling, shot.
"His eyes got so wide open," Kohan said. "All I could see was rage. He had no soul left in him."
Pazoki attacked, and Kohan fired that third shot into his chest, mortally wounding him, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.
Kohan's neighbors thanked him for saving their lives. El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said he was a hero.
It's not something Kohan sought.
"Two people had to lose their lives for me to be a hero," he said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with The Bee. "I'd never want this for me or anyone else."
Kohan's ordeal began Sunday about 2:30 p.m., when Pazoki turned violent while visiting relatives in the 1000 block of Venezia Drive in the upscale Promontory development, a gated community in El Dorado Hills.
Relatives said Pazoki, 33, had a history of mental illness.
After chasing relatives from the house, Pazoki caught up with his uncle, Ahmad Pazeky, 58, of Orange County, and stabbed Pazeky to death, sheriff's officials said. He also wounded Vahid Seyedin, 47, owner of the house he was visiting.
After the ordeal, Kohan was incarcerated overnight in the El Dorado County jail in Placerville on suspicion of murder. He was released Monday morning after Pierson and his chief assistant reviewed the case.
"All I can say … is when you have two people that have lost their lives in a horrific situation such as this, the detectives have to be as careful as they can about having their facts straight to protect the public," Pierson said.
Kohan wasn't troubled by his lockup. He said he was given a private cell and cared for by guards sympathetic to his plight.
"I was never mistreated or mishandled," he said. "They all made sure I was very comfortable. … I even felt as if I made a couple of friends in there."
As he spoke Wednesday, Kohan's voice cracked with strain as he recounted the incident.
He said he was lifting weights in his garage when his wife, running on a treadmill next to him, said she heard screams.
He went to get some water and, by chance, looked out into the street. What he saw, he said, will haunt him forever.
"I saw someone with white pants and a white shirt. Half of his body was covered in blood," Kohan said. "Then he raises this knife and starts yelling. … It was just so loud. … What a horrific sound."
Kohan ran back inside the house with his wife following, not knowing what was going on.
He ran to where he stored his .45-caliber pistol and grabbed two magazines, he said. As a hunter, he has several guns.
"By the time I got to my driveway, it was too late," he said. "He'd caught up to this old man and was just stabbing."
Kohan fired a warning shot.
"As soon as I did that, he got startled … and stopped," Kohan said. "I immediately put the gun on him and said 'Drop the knife.' "
The attacker looked at him for a moment, he said, and then "went back to the business."
When Pazeky fell on the ground, Pazoki jumped on his chest and started stabbing him again, Kohan said.
"At this time, the neighbors starting yelling 'Shoot him! Shoot him!' "
Kohan said he didn't know what to think.
"I turned to (the neighbors) and told them 'I don't want to shoot him,' " he said.
He fired another warning shot.
The attacker "didn't even twitch." Instead, Kohan said, he looked at the faces gathered around him as he slashed his uncle's throat.
Pazoki then turned his attention to Kohan and his neighbors, who'd gathered with his wife and were huddled behind him.
"At this point … not only were they telling me to shoot him, but they were hitting me in the back," Kohan said.
Pazoki started moving his feet like a running back trying to fake out the defense.
"I knew at that point he was going to bolt at us," Kohan said.
Pazoki started running toward them. On the third step, Kohan fired the fatal shot.
"You know what he did? He came up and said 'Shoot me again,' " Kohan recalled. "I'm thinking, this man is superhuman … he just got hit with a .45."
Then, Pazoki's expression changed, from rage to "like someone who isn't feeling good," Kohan said. Slowly, he lay down on the pavement.
Kohan said he tried to kick the knife out of Pazoki's hand, but Pazoki was still swinging the blade, his face the picture of calm.
Kohan said he cannot escape the images. In the past three days, he's slept about four hours.
"I feel really bad having to take a life," he said. "But I exhausted every possible route. I opened up so many doors for him to give up. … I had no choice but to do what I had to do."
Kohan has lived on Venezia Drive for about eight months, but Monday morning when he got home from jail was the first time he'd ever really spoken to his neighbors.
"I sat down with them and had tea," he said. "It's amazing, that was the first time we'd ever met."
Like Kohan, his neighbors are from Iran, he said.
"I told them I felt really bad for having to (shoot). It was one of their family members," he said. "They wanted to give me comfort and said, 'You have no reason whatsoever to feel bad.' "
Then they telephoned Vahid Seyedin, at the time still recovering at Mercy Hospital of Folsom from his stab wounds. Seyedin called Kohan his "hero."
Kohan plans to attend the funerals of both Pazeky and Pazoki, the man he shot.
The bond between his family and theirs, he said, "is cemented forever."