WESTPORT, Conn. UPDATE 12/10: Updated images of the suspect in Thursday night's fatal shooting of Westport business owner Yekutiel Zeevi were still being developed, Westport Police Capt. Sam Arciola announced Saturday. These photos, captured at the scene, will be released when they become available.
Pending any further developments throughout the day, another update will be sent Saturday evening, Arciola said.
Original Story (published 12/9):
WESTPORT, Conn. Stunned disbelief was the feeling of Compo Shopping Center store owners and employees after the Thursday night murder of a fellow merchant. But it wasn't just the nature of the crime that was so shocking.
"I can't imagine anyone ever saying anything negative about him," Lorie Yanell said of Yekutiel Zeevi, who was shot to death at his business, Y.Z. Jewelry Manufacturing at 431 Post Road E., Suite 18.
Yanell, of The Textile Store, said Zeevi, 65, was a "really genuine" and "kind-hearted" man who loved people. Zeevi was known around the plaza for his sense of humor, she said.
"He was a real character," she said. "He has a very strong accent. He would try to make things sound funnier anyway, just because of his accent."
Both Zeevi and a business associate, Ronen Konfino, 48, of New York City, were shot at about 10 p.m. Thursday in what police are calling a "targeted" shooting. Zeevi was pronounced dead at Norwalk Hospital, and Konfino was in stable condition Friday.
Police said the suspect met with Zeevi and Konfino on Wednesday to buy or sell diamonds and scheduled another appointment with the men Thursday night.
Gina Dasilva, owner of Gina's Hair Salon, said she had known Zeevi at least 30 years and was stunned at his death. Like Yanell, she described him as a "very nice" and "very pleasant" person who was always willing to help others.
Dasilva's employee, Juanita Moreno, agreed, and added that Zeevi was a family man. His death, she said, is "not fair."
"You don't expect something like that to happen, not in Westport," Moreno said. "It's a big loss."
Ricky Medina, acting manager at NYSC, said although he didn't know Zeevi personally, he always saw him around the plaza. And whenever he saw Zeevi, he said the diamond dealer would wave and say "hello."
"He was always smiling," said Medina, who has worked in the plaza for five years.
Zeevi lived in town with his wife, Nava. A call to their residence Friday afternoon went unanswered and was not picked up by an answering machine.
Police say this was the first murder in Westport since a murder/suicide in 1996. Westport detectives and state police are investigating. As of Friday night, police did not have an identity of the suspect, but he was captured on surveillance video from YZ Jewelers. The tape has been sent to the state police lab for enhancements.
The suspect is described as follows:
A white male, appearing to be in his 40s, with three or four days of facial hair growth, short salt-and-pepper-colored hair, about 5-foot-10, wearing a black driving cap, black frame glasses, blue jeans, brown cowboy boots and a blue or green two-tone jacket with a light-colored stripe.
The suspect was also believed to have driven a blue, four-door "boxy" type car. The make and plate number were not known.
Anyone who may have seen a person matching this description in the area of Compo Shopping Center between 8:30 and 10 p.m. Thursday is asked to call the Westport Police Department Detective Bureau at 203-341-6080.
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