Ninoos Atoori, an Assyrian Killed in Turlock

7/11/2005 8:30:15 AM

A former Turlock man was shot and killed early Saturday in the parking lot of an out-of-business restaurant near Highway 99 and Taylor Road, Stanislaus County sheriff's deputies said.

Ninoos Nick Atoori, 40, died from multiple gunshot wounds, Detective Mark Copeland said.

Atoori had moved recently from Turlock to Las Vegas and was back in Turlock visiting relatives when he was killed, Copeland said.

The 12:24 a.m. shooting occurred in front of the former Whanga-Rei Restaurant at 4905 N. Golden State Blvd. The restaurant and bar is closed for business and the doors padlocked.

"We believe the victim went to the parking lot to meet someone, but we don't know who or why," Copeland said. "We don't know a motive for the killing."

Copeland said Atoori was last seen alive about 10 p.m. Friday at his parents' Turlock home. Atoori left without saying where he was going.

Copeland said a couple from Idaho had parked their big-rig near the restaurant and they were in it when they heard several shots.

They looked over and saw one man on the ground and another standing near a white panel cargo van yelling at someone inside the van.

The witnesses said the white van then sped out of the parking lot and south on Golden State Boulevard toward Turlock.

Copeland said the killer was in the van, but it's unknown how many people were in the van.

After the van left, the man who had shouted at the shooters leaned over the victim and checked him. Realizing the victim was dead, the man got on a motorcycle and sped away.

Copeland said he would like to talk to the motorcyclist.

Witnesses described the motorcyclist as 25 to 30 years old, about 6 feet tall with short dark hair. He was wearing a leather jacket and no helmet. The motorcycle was described as a sport motorcycle with a red tank.

No description of the killer or killers was available, Copeland said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detective Mark Copeland at 525-7080.

Bee staff writer Daryl Farnsworth can be reached at 578-2337 or dfarnsworth@modbee.com.

Bee staff writer Michael Mooney contributed to this story.