FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A man shot and killed in a Boynton Beach liquor store Sunday was planning to retire that very day at the end of his shift, police say.
Ali Arezoumandifar, 79, of Jupiter, had recently sold Liquor Market and was helping the new owners learn to run the business, police said. His family was waiting at home for him Sunday with a celebratory dinner when they received the call that he was dead.
“Nobody expected what happened last night,” Boynton Beach Police Investigator Marco Villari said.
According to police, Arezoumandifar was shot while standing behind the counter of the store. Police said they are not sure whether there was a struggle. He was found by a customer at 8:10 p.m. on the floor of the store.
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Villari said he is personally affected by Arezoumandifar’s death because the two had formed a relationship after a prior robbery at the store last month.
“Property crime – when money is stolen – we can deal with that,” he said. “When a life is taken, that hurts.”
In an Oct. 27 robbery, a man with a black mask covering his face grabbed a tray of scratch-off lottery tickets from a counter and ran from the store.
That robber got into a car, and Arezoumandifar tried to grab him. The robber hit the gas and caused Arezoumandifar to be thrown onto the ground. Arezoumandifar suffered face and head injuries at the time.
Villari, who was working that prior case, accompanied Arezoumandifar to the hospital. He said Arezoumandifar’s family told him to not go after assailants in the future, and urged him to retire because of the robbery.
The suspect in the prior liquor store robbery and his girlfriend later were identified by police. They were suspected of an Oct. 26 heist, in which they allegedly worked together to steal scratch-off tickets from a 7-Eleven, authorities said.
In that burglary, police said a woman asked to use the bathroom as a man ordered two pizzas at the counter. As the clerk was busy, the man jumped over the counter and grabbed several scratch-off tickets.
A Florida lottery security agent helped police determined the tickets were cashed at a Shell gas station and then another ticket was cashed later at the same 7-Eleven. The two burglary suspects were arrested Nov. 7 on drug possession charges.
“They were both suspects in a similar robbery at a 7-Eleven,” said Stephanie Slater, police spokeswoman. “Detectives were able to arrest them for the 7-Eleven robbery, but there was insufficient evidence to make an arrest for the robbery at Liquor Market.”
Villari said one of the suspects in the 7-Eleven case has been ruled out from Sunday’s case because he is still in jail. The other, he said, was questioned and is considered a person of interest.
Magnolia Salgado, 25, of Lantana, works at Kristal Cleaners in the same plaza where Liquor Market is situated. Salgado found out about the shooting Monday morning. She said Arezoumandifar was very “nice and sweet.”
“It’s very sad that that happened to him,” Salgado said.