Toronto Star

June 27, 2000

Man shoots ex-wife, commits suicide

Wounding latest in rash of violence against spouses

By Philip Mascoll
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

A Toronto woman who took pity on her former husband by letting him stay in the apartment she shared with their two daughters was shot by the man yesterday as one of the girls lay sleeping at her side.

Zahra Zeinali, 39, shot once in the face, was listed in stable condition last night at Sunnybrook hospital. The victim of the latest in a recent rash of spousal abuse incidents is expected to live.

She likely will be scarred, but won't lose the sight in either eye.

The woman's ex-husband, Javad Zeinali, who in 1997 was charged with attempting to kill her following an unsuccessful attempt to stab her to death, then drove to the North York air conditioning plant where he worked as a serviceman and shot himself to death.

Police believe a single .22-calibre rifle was used in both shootings.

Zeinali's shooting at the hands of her former husband comes less than a week after Gillian Hadley was shot dead in her Pickering home by her estranged husband, Ralph, who then killed himself.

Coroner Dr. Trevor Gillmore said he couldn't say whether an inquest will be called into southern Ontario's latest case of domestic violence.

``At this point, a decision has not been made to hold an inquest'' into Javad Zeinali's death, Gillmore said. ``When the full facts are known, that decision will be made.''

According to investigators in yesterday's tragedy, the 16-year-old daughter who shared her mother's bedroom was unhurt and immediately called 911.

``The daughter did not see the shooting, but she heard the shot,'' said Toronto police Detective Debbie Harris, who with her partner, Detective-Constable Marc Lortie, is investigating the shooting.

``That's what awakened her.''

Harris said the man ``slept on the couch, the mother and the 16-year-old were in one bedroom, the 17-year-old in another.''

One police source told The Star the woman was seeing somebody and apparently the ex-husband exploded in jealousy.

Investigators immediately blanketed the immaculate condominium tower where the couple lived on Markbrook Lane in Etobicoke's Kipling and Steeles Aves. W. area, but found no trace of a suspect. A short time later, a man was found shot behind the wheel of his van at a Bentworth Ave. business, near Lawrence Ave. W. and Keele St. in North York.

It was Javad Zeinali.

Lortie welcomed the thought of an inquest.

``The focus would be on (this) suicide but including the others,'' he said, referring to other cases of spousal murder, attempted murder and assault that have occurred in the past several weeks.

In addition to Hadley's slaying last week, recent spousal abuse incidents in southern Ontario include:

In the region's latest incident of domestic violence, police say, Zahra Zeinali was simply being kind to her ex-husband by letting him stay in her apartment. It couldn't have been a spur-of-the-moment gesture.

To enable her former husband to stay with her and the girls, police say, Zeinali went back to court and asked a judge to amend a probation order that ordered him to stay away from her.

Javad Zeinali had been sentenced to probation in connection with the earlier attempt to kill his wife.

The man was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and a weapons offence after his wife and one of their two daughters were seriously injured in the stabbing in their Etobicoke apartment.

Six months after the June 1, 1997, incident, Javad Zeinali pleaded guilty and received a conditional sentence that apparently did not include jail time.

Neighbours say they often encountered members of the Zeinali family as they headed to their 17th-floor apartment, and had spoken to them in the building's elevator.

Javad Zeinali's employer at the North York heating and air conditioning plant, who didn't want to be identified, said Zeinali was a good employee for the three or four months he'd been working in the service department.

``He was a very nice person,'' said the employer. ``He was always talking about his two daughters, how he loved them.''

But Zeinali hadn't been himself recently. ``He was pretty upset in the last days,'' he said. ``Sometimes when you talk to someone, you feel it.''

Zeinali hadn't said much to the other employees who greeted him yesterday. ``He just said `Hi,' and was shaking his head.''

Then Zeinali got back into his van, locked the doors, rolled up the windows, and turned up the radio, the employer said. None of his co-workers heard the shot that killed him.

The manager and most others at the plant went home early. ``Today's not the kind of day you can really answer the phone,'' he said.

With files from Jim Rankin, Jim Wilkes and Graeme Smith

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