In apparent eviction attempt, landlord dies

A landlord was shot to death in his minivan Tuesday afternoon, and neighbors say the shooter was a tenant he was trying to evict.

The suspect – whom police have not named – ran through yards and a stand of trees before getting into a blue Cadillac and speeding off. Officers say the shooter might be accompanied by at least one other suspect. No one had been apprehended by late Tuesday.

Police identified the dead man as Jacob Massachi, 53, but most neighborhood residents say they knew him only as Mr. Jacob, the rent man.

Massachi and the man who lived at the house walked around the neighborhood for a few minutes Tuesday afternoon, said one man.

The witness didn't want to be identified.

“I heard (Massachi) say ‘just give me the money and it'll be OK.'”

But the family's possessions were lined up outside the orange-brick, one-story home on Zircon Street. A mattress and bags of clothes leaned against a slumping fence. A love seat was stacked on a table nearby.

At some point, landlord and tenant separated, but another neighbor said the man who lived at the home came back and tried to go inside.

Massachi “was trying to stop him from going in the house,” said Antonio Evans, who lives on nearby Alpha Street.

Around 4:45 p.m., neighbors heard gunfire. When police got there, Massachi was slumped inside his white minivan. He was shot at least once, police said, and the passenger's-side window was shattered.

Many of the people in that neighborhood just behind Lupie's Café were renters who said they paid Massachi monthly. Rent for a one-bedroom house started at $475. Evictions happened, one neighbor said, but not as often as they would have if Massachi wasn't so lenient.

“He was a good man. He'd help people who was behind on their rent,” the neighbor said. “I owe him $60 myself.”