x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Iranian women's civil rights activist killed in Houston

A woman whom 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 town house garage.

HOUSTON // A woman whom 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 town house garage.

The car was still running when police found the body of Gelareh Bagherzadeh, 30, behind the wheel about 12.30am Monday in an upmarket town house development.

"When the officer arrived, the car's tires were still spinning. He had to reach in and turn off the motor," the policeman JC Padilla said.

Ms Bagherzadeh apparently was talking on the phone with an ex-boyfriend when she was shot.

"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," Sergeant Richard Bolton, a Houston police detective, said.

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

Ms Bagherzadeh was a molecular genetic technology student at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She also was active in promoting Iranian women's rights, the 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," Mr Senties said.

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