Neighbors and family members described the man behind Tuesday’s hostage situation at an Amarillo Walmart as a longtime resident, part of a quiet family who didn’t come across as violent.
Amarillo police said Mohammad Moghaddam, 54, fired shots and held two hostages at gunpoint at Walmart, 4215 Canyon Dr., before Amarillo Police Department SWAT officers shot and killed him.
The hostage situation was described as a “workplace violence event.”
The Moghaddam family came to Amarillo eight years ago from Iran, two of the family’s grown children said Tuesday at their Southeast 36th Avenue home. They said their mother, Leila Gachlou, Mohammad’s wife, also works at Walmart. The children, Adel, 30, and Atefeh, 27, were home while the incident was still unfolding. They have lived on 36th Avenue for at least the last eight years.
“I saw him this morning. He was happy and ate breakfast and then went to work,” Adel told the Amarillo Globe-News.
Potter-Randall Appraisal District records show Moghaddam purchased the home in November 2004.
A criminal history check on Moghaddam did not return any results. Records show he previously lived in the Bronx Borough of New York City.
Representatives of the two organizations that facilitate refugee resettlements in Amarillo -Refugee Services of Texas and Catholic Charities – said they would not discuss whether they helped Moghaddam and his family relocate to Amarillo.
A neighbor, who asked not to be named, described Moghaddam’s family as quiet, mostly keeping to themselves. She said she was told Moghaddam had a liver transplant last year.
“This is very unexpected,” the neighbor said. “You never expect your neighbor to do that.”
Amarillo Globe-News reporters Matthew Hutchison and Russell Anglin contributed to this profile.