Used car dealership owner shot and killed during robbery

HOUSTON - Homicide detectives are searching for a man who gunned down a local businessman in the parking lot of a west Houston used car dealership.

Family members identified the victim as Russell Soltani.

The shooting happened in the 8900 block of Long Point near Campbell Road. According to police, Soltani had just arrived at work at around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday when he parked his vehicle and began walking towards the front door of the business.

It appears the gunman ambushed Soltani from behind, fired two shots and grabbed his briefcase. The gunman took off running towards a getaway car that was parked next door at a car wash.

Soltani was transported to Ben Taub General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

"I heard the shots and then I heard somebody screaming," said Humberto Ramon, who was working in the back of the car dealership at the time of the shooting.

Police say Soltani was known to carry important documents and a cashbox in his briefcase.

The gunman and his accomplice may have been watching Soltani and knew when he arrived at work and that he usually carried valuables with him.

"That's pretty brazen, to show up in broad daylight where you're not really worried about being seen and then run down a busy street," said Sgt. Joel Burton, a Houston Police Department homicide investigator.

Co-workers and family members described the victim as a husband and father who hails from Iran.

Distraught family members were in the process of trying to contact relatives in their homeland to tell them about the shooting.

"He's a nice guy, a business man who didn't harm no one," said Tony Sazash. "Comes to work every day, trying to make a living."

Investigators released still photos from surveillance cameras located at several nearby businesses.

The suspect is described only as a black male, 30 to 35 years old, about 5 foot 7 and weighing 200 to 220 pounds.  He was last seen in a gray, four-door 2009 Chevrolet Malibu

Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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