Homophobia, Drugs and Mental Illness May Have Led to Gay Man’s Killing, Dad’s Arrest

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Next-door neighbor Maria Gomez holds her phone displaying the photo a man allegedly killed by his father. The shooting occurred on Tuesday at the family's North Hills home. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The house in North Hills is on a street with beautiful rosebushes and bad sidewalks, one in a row of single-story homes with iron security gates. Like his neighbors, Shehada “Joe” Issa had ringed his modest property with a strong fence and slapped a sign in the window to warn off trespassers.

But in this high-crime neighborhood, where few speak English and most take pains to guard what little they have, the violence that destroyed the Issa family didn’t come from outside.

New details emerged Saturday about a strange series of events last week that left Shehada Issa in jail and his wife and son dead. Information from law enforcement agencies and interviews with neighbors suggested that a long-brewing mix of drugs, mental illness, homophobia and extreme family dysfunction had finally led to a tragic result.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office announced Friday that Issa, 69, was being charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of his 29-year-old son, Amir Issa, who was found dead Tuesday morning outside the family’s home on Rayen Street. Found inside the house was Shehada’s wife and Amir’s mother, Rabihah Issa, 68. She had been stabbed, police said, and may have been dead for some time before her body was discovered.

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