Just weeks before he was fatally shot in an auto robbery, a Chatsworth man had volunteered to become active in his Neighborhood Watch group and had even planned to attend a session on avoiding carjackings.
But Naghi Ghoraishy, 74, did not go to the Neighborhood Watch meeting Feb. 25 in which police offered tips to prevent carjackings, said his daughter, Meece Ghoraishy. Instead, he dined with family members that night, thinking that the meeting was the next evening.
Her comments came Saturday after a memorial service and forum on carjacking attended by about 200 people at a Chatsworth church. Naghi Ghoraishy was fatally shot March 15 by a man who took his 1989 Mercedes-Benz at a Mobil gas station at Lassen Street and Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
His family decided to hold Saturday's event at St. John Eudes Church both to honor Ghoraishy and alert others to the dangers of violent crime. Before his death, the retired merchant took an active interest in helping to prevent crime in his neighborhood.
"He wanted all of us to be safe," Meece Ghoraishy said. "Nothing had ever happened to us before. . . . but he was getting worried about rising crime."
She said even if her father had attended the Feb. 25 meeting he still might have died in the carjacking. "It could have been avoided, maybe, but maybe he was just in the wrong place in the wrong time," she said. "If my dad was not there, it could have been someone else."
Ghoraishy attended a Feb. 17 Neighborhood Watch meeting on his street. After the meeting, he approached organizers and volunteered to spend time with the group, said Gary Washburn, co-chairman for Neighborhood Watch in that section of Chatsworth.
"It seemed insignificant at the time, this gentleman wanted to help just as so many others were helping," Washburn told the audience. "In less than a month, horrified neighbors would view the news crews asking about this nice man."
Hassan Shahbazz, a theologian and leader in the Iranian community, honored Ghoraishy in English and Farsi. He described how Ghoraishy left his hometown of Bobol, near the Caspian Sea, as a young man to seek his fortune in Tehran where he established a business. Ghoraishy left Iran after the 1978 revolution and moved to the United States in 1981.
"He was a truly benevolent person, a gentleman who loved everyone," Shahbazz said. "If only this insane person realized what kind of person he killed. . . . There was no reason for this to have happened."
During the Farsi portion of Shahbazz's speech, many people wept.
Two law enforcement officials who spoke at the forum said they took Ghoraishy's death personally.
"Every time I pass by there, I look at that intersection differently," said Officer Jim Dellinger, who coordinates police patrols in the neighborhood. "I feel anger and a sense of embarrassment that this happened."
Dellinger warned the audience never to resist a carjacker and to always be cautious when traveling by auto. He encouraged motorists to always look around before entering or exiting their vehicle.
"I think the whole community feels a sense of fear," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Sterling Norris, who frequently jogs past the crime scene. "My daughter works three blocks from there."