Restaurant Manager Killed in Robbery


The newlywed manager of a Denny’s restaurant on Reseda Boulevard was shot to death early Saturday in front of two dozen customers during a robbery, police said.

Cyrus Salehi was working the late shift at the 24-hour restaurant in the 7600 block of the thoroughfare when a lone gunman entered at about 2:30 a.m., police said.

Los Angeles Police Department Officer Robert Crum said the gunman ordered Salehi to open the cash register. When Salehi did so and stepped back, Crum said, the gunman shot the 38-year-old native of Iran once in the chest with a small-caliber handgun.


Crum said Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics took Salehi to Northridge Hospital Medical Center, where he died 2 1/2 hours later.

The gunman took an unknown amount of cash from the till and fled in a black Cadillac, Crum said.

Salehi’s assailant was described by witnesses as a white or Hispanic male in his 20s, about 5 feet, 9 inches, and about 180 pounds. The gunman was wearing a white tank top and had several tattoos on his upper body, Crum said.

Salehi’s wife of six months, Jamie, secluded herself in a bedroom of her Van Nuys home as friends arrived to console her. Wedding pictures of the newlyweds covered the mantle.

“What do they have to prove by shooting an innocent man and destroying a lot of people’s lives?” asked Hamid, a friend of the family who declined to give his last name. “I don’t know why this thing happened.”

Hamid said Salehi came to California 10 years ago after moving to Louisiana to attend college in the 1970s.


“He loved it here and decided to stay,” Hamid said.

Salehi worked at several restaurants before starting work at Denny’s when it opened last July, according to Hamid.

Julie Ahn, a former hostess at the restaurant, said co-workers considered Salehi a hard-working boss who had a sense of humor.

“He knew how to balance fun and work,” said Ahn, 18. “He joked around but he was diligent.”

Even before Salehi’s death, Ahn said she considered the area unsafe. Her parents, owners of a pharmacy next door, had been robbed in the past.

Because of the shooting, the manager of a Denny’s restaurant in Woodland Hills said he would post security guards for an extra two hours each night, and would instruct employees not to resist would-be robbers.

“If they ask for money at gunpoint, just give it to them,” said the manager, Syed Naimatullah. “Open the register and get away from it. Save yourself.”