Any mother can empathize with Marsha Jones Shoushtari.
“I had always wanted a boy,” she says of her 18-year-old son, Bijan. Bijan was killed in South Los Angeles in August of 2013. More than two years later and the LA Police Department remains without any credible clues into the slaying.
“Unfortunately we’re not too much further along in the investigation than when we started,” says LAPD South Bureau Gang Homicide Division Detective Matt Courtney. “Billboards posted around town and the sketch we released back then didn’t bring in one phone call.”
Not one phone call — it’s a fact of the case that’s baffled police, and left Bijan’s family in grief.
“He was a very dynamic, outgoing young man,” Shoushtari says of her son. Bijan had just graduated from Hamilton High School and was two weeks away from starting an EMT program at El Camino College when he died.
“That day, was pretty hard because he called me on the phone that night and said 'Mom, I’m just leaving my girlfriend’s house and I’m going to my friend’s house and we’re just going to ride,'” she says.
Bijan and two friends were going on a joy ride in one of the young men’s cars — a restored, 1973 Buick Electra — all white, rims and seats included. His mom told him not to be out too late and he promised he wouldn’t.
The shooting happened on Creshaw Boulevard near Vernon Avenue around midnight. Bijan’s sister ran into their parents’ room to give them the news.
“She said, 'Mom, Dad, Bijan’s been shot.' And we just jumped out of the bed like, what?”
For two days Bijan struggled to survive in the hospital. His parents say at the time, he may have held the record for how much blood was transfused to try to keep him alive.
“His eyes were never opened,” his mother says, reaching to squeeze her own fingers. “But he grabbed my fingers and he squeezed them. And that was it.”
In all this time, Shoushtari says one questions remains with her: Why?
“Somebody has to feel guilty,” she says. “Somebody has to say, I know somebody that killed Bijan and I’m going to do the right thing. I’m going to speak up and speak out.”
Detective Courtney says he believes the gang culture in South LA is to blame for Bijan’s death as well as his department’s inability to find his killer.
“People are scared of being viewed as snitches or even cooperating as witnesses. It’s something we’re trying to change,” he says.
But while change comes slow, if at all, Bijan’s mother says she’s certain her son’s case will be solved — either with old fashioned police work, or a simple tip from the community where they live.
And as for the sketch released when Bijan was killed — LAPD believes it’s the face of the driver of the Dodge Charger they think was being driven by the killer. And Bijan’s mother says she sees that face every day.
“I’ve seen it a thousand times. I’ve memorized it.”
LAPD is hoping someone will come forward. Just this week, LA City Council approved a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the murder. To call in a tip, even anonymously, you can reach detectives at 323-786-5100.