Iranian women's activist shot dead in Houston

Gelareh Bagherzadeh, a molecular genetic technology student in Houston, is seen in this undated picture.

KHOU-TV

HOUSTON - A woman whom Houston police described as an activist on behalf of Iranian women's civil rights was found shot dead at the wheel of her car after it crashed into a Houston townhouse garage.

Police are reviewing surveillance video from the area Wednesday.

The car was still running when police found the body of Gelareh Bagherzadeh, 30, behind the wheel about 12:30 a.m. Monday in a posh townhouse development about a mile west of Interstate 610, Officer J.C. Padilla said.

"When the officer arrived, the car's tires were still spinning. He had to reach in and turn off the motor," he told KPRC-TV of Houston

Bagherzadeh apparently was talking on the phone with an ex-boyfriend when she was shot, police Homicide Sgt. Richard Bolton said.

"He heard a loud thud — doesn't recall hearing any gunshots, but a loud thud — and then a screeching noise. He said it sounded like someone driving away," Bolton told CBS affiliate KHOU-TV of Houston.

Bolton said police have questioned the ex-boyfriend but he is not a person of interest in the case.

Bagherzadeh was a molecular genetic technology student at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She also was active in promoting Iranian women's rights, police spokesman Victor Senties said.

"It appears she was one of the ones who would be out protesting, and she was very well known in the Iranian women's rights community because she was constantly out protesting," Senties told the Houston Chronicle.

Senties said it was unclear whether her death was related to her background or her activities. Bolton said investigators suspect the victim was followed home or that someone was waiting for her.

Bagherzadeh's purse and cellphone were inside the vehicle.

"She has no enemies," Bolton said. "She was a very caring and loving person."