Slain Lyft driver worked at night, cared for baby during day

AP News
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Posted: Jun 03, 2016 2:58 PM
Slain Lyft driver worked at night, cared for baby during day

MABELTON, Ga. (AP) — Camila Wright took a chance three years ago when she got on a plane to meet the man who would become the love of her life. This week he was cruelly taken from her, shot dead while working to provide for his wife and young daughter.

Shahriar Zolfaghari, 34, was shot in the upper torso and found dead inside his car at a stoplight in Atlanta around 1 a.m. Wednesday, police said. He had been working at night as a driver for ride-hiring service Lyft so he could care for his daughter during the day. Wright is a prosecutor who focuses on human trafficking cases for the Georgia attorney general's office.

Zolfaghari's credit cards and ID were still on him and his car wasn't taken, and police have said they don't know the motive behind the killing. They've subpoenaed ride-booking records from Lyft, which the company promptly turned over. Based on the location of two shell casings found at the scene, investigators believe the shooter may have been in the car at some point, police have said.

Wright and her husband began talking after a mutual friend put them in touch. A frequent traveler who had previously lived abroad, Wright had wanted to visit Istanbul, where Zolfaghari lived. After they'd been talking for five or six months, she booked a ticket, excited to have a travel buddy but not expecting anything more until he met her at the airport.

"The moment I saw him walking towards me holding a bunch of flowers, I said, 'Oh damn.' I knew it was something special," she told reporters outside her home in Mabelton on Friday as her brother and parents hovered nearby. "We married nine months later and we've had three perfect years."

After their daughter, Zoya, was born a year ago, Zolfaghari put his career in real estate development on hold to stay home and care for her.

"The day she was born, he looked at her and said to me that she would always be with one of us," Wright said.

Each day when Zoya napped, she slept on her father's chest, Wright said. Ultimately, Zolfaghari hoped to start his business up again, so his wife could stay home with their daughter. The couple had also talked about having another child and about adopting children.

"So he had that constant motivation to skip a little more sleep and see how he could move our dreams forward," Wright said.

Zolfaghari generally spent evenings with his family, heading into Atlanta around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. and usually returning home around 2 a.m. He would text his wife between rides and she would send him photos of their daughter.

The night he died, he sent Wright a text saying he missed her and Zoya and called her around midnight to see if they could lend money to a family in need to buy a water heater. It was something he'd been working on arranging all day.

The two texted a few more times, laughing at how he'd had one fare that was only $3, and then she sent him a smile by text and went to sleep.

Wright awoke at 4 a.m. surprised to find that her husband wasn't there.

"I could've sworn he came home," she said. "I was so confused because I really remember him coming home and giving me a kiss."

She began calling, texting and looking for him. Then she called police sergeants and detectives she knows through work. They told her what had happened and hurried to her home to be by her side.

Crime Stoppers offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday issued an executive order, at the request of Attorney General Sam Olens, offering $5,000 more.

The family has also set up a GoFundMe account for people to contribute money to help pay for care for Wright and Zolfaghari's daughter.