03:00 - Source: CNN
Police: Christmas gunman called 911

Story highlights

"I am shooting people," the man whispers on the call

Seven people were found dead on Christmas at the apartment

The gunman was dressed as Santa Claus

Dallas CNN  — 

A man dressed as Santa Claus called 911 from a Texas apartment where seven people were killed on Christmas Day, whispering “I am shooting people” on a haunting recording, police said.

Authorities didn’t hear those words at first, but an enhanced recording revealed the caller saying he has opened fire, said Lt. Todd Dearing of the police department in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine, Texas.

Investigators responding to what they thought was an open 911 line discovered the bodies of seven family members who apparently had just finished opening Christmas presents.

Police have said that 56-year-old Azizolah Yazdanpanah apparently opened fire on his estranged wife and other family members in the apartment, including his own teenage children, before turning the gun on himself.

“On the recording, we discovered that the caller, whom we believe to be Aziz, additionally saying, ‘I am shooting people’ after he said, ‘help, help,’” police said in a statement Wednesday. “The newly discovered audio was not heard on the original audio software over many playbacks, and was not heard/understood by the dispatcher who took the call on Sunday.”

The dispatcher on the recording is heard telling others she hears only “heavy breathing” despite her questions to the caller – “Do you need help? Are you sick? Do you need an ambulance or police?”

The dead at the apartment included Fatemeh Rahmaty, 55, who was separated from Yazdanpanah; Ali Yazdanpanah, 14, and Nona Yazdanpanah, 19, the couple’s children; Zohreh Ramahty, 58, Fatemeh Rahmaty’s sister, and her husband, Mohamad Hossein Zarei, 59; and their daughter, Sara Fatemeh Zarei, 22.

Two memorial services – one for the entire family and a second for friends of Ali and Nona – were held on Wednesday, according to a Facebook page to honor the family.