Neighbors said gay man shot by father had troubled history

Friends and neighbors of a man who has been charged with killing his son because he was gay said Saturday that the young man had a troubled history and was involved in several incidents that resulted in the police being called to the house.

On Friday, Shehada Khalil Issa, 69, of North Hills was charged with fatally shooting his son, Amir Issa, 29, outside the family’s home earlier this week because he was gay, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

“The murder was committed because of the victim’s sexual orientation and because of the defendant’s perception of that status and the victims’ association with a person and a group of that status,” prosecutors said in a statement.

Issa was arrested at the scene and booked into the Men’s Central Jail on one count of premeditated murder. He is being held without bail.

The shooting occurred about 9 a.m. Tuesday at the family’s residence in the 15000 block of Rayen Street.

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The father admitted that he shot his son with a shotgun, said Sgt. Greg Bruce of the Los Angeles Police Department, who was the incident commander at the scene of the shooting. Bruce said he was not provided with any explanation as to why the man shot his son.

The body of Amir Issa was found outside the home, police said.

The victim was shot once in the abdomen and once in the face, Bruce said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities entered the home and also discovered the victim’s mother, identified by the coroner as Rabihah Issa, 68, on the bathroom floor. Because of the condition of the bloodied body, it appeared she had been dead “for a while,” Bruce said.

The nature of her wounds were not immediately clear, but it was obvious there was “some sort of foul play,” he said.

Police had been in previous contact with the family about “a dispute,” Bruce said. The man’s son had been using the back of the house as an apartment, but his parents were seeking to sell the house and evict their son, Bruce said.

“Our detectives were involved in the eviction process to try to get him removed from the property,” he said.

The detectives told Bruce that the son had damaged the house and his parents had to hire contractors to fix it.

The sergeant said he was not aware of any disputes related to the victim’s sexual orientation.

Francisco Gonzalez Jr. said he was visiting his parents next door Tuesday morning when he heard what seemed to be two gunshots.

He said he ran outside to find out what had happened and saw the elder Issa, whom he called “Joe,” standing in front of his house, holding his cellphone to his ear.

“Were those bullets?” Gonzalez said he asked the man. “Are you OK, Joe? Was that you?”

He said the man gestured up and down with his hand to reassure his neighbor and said, “Everything is fine now.”

The elder Issa didn’t seem distraught, Gonzalez said.

He said he had spoken with the man several times before and considered him a “great guy.”

A few months ago, Gonzalez said the elder Issa told him about his son’s troubles.

“Drugs can mess up your life,” Gonzalez recalled the suspect telling him. “My son had a great life, and then he did drugs and it all went away.”

The son worked with computers, the father told Gonzalez.

At the time, the elder Issa told Gonzalez that he was trying to get his son to leave the house, but his son refused to do so.

About three months ago, Gonzalez said he saw the elder man standing outside his home. He asked him what he was doing.

“It’s just my son acting crazy again,” the father told him. “It’s the drugs. I called the cops, so I’m just waiting for them. I’m just going to wait here.”

Gonzalez said he was impressed with how the father handled the situation.

“He was very patient and showed no signs of aggression. That’s why it’s so shocking and sad,” he said of the killing. “We feel for him. It’s a tragedy.”

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Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

2:35 p.m.: This article has been updated with new information regarding the suspect and his son.

12:10 p.m.: The article was updated with new information about the suspected shooter.

10:38 a.m.: This article was updated with more information about the initial shooting and subsequent investigation.

April 2, 6:08 a.m.: This article was updated with more background.

11 p.m.: This article was updated with a quote from Jim Key, spokesman for the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

9:50 p.m.: This article was updated with details on where the suspect is being held, and context about violence against LGBT people.

8:26 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the shooting.

This article was originally published at 7:58 p.m., April 1.

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