Weird But True

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Weird But True

11/20/2007
NEW YORK -- A gas price war between two convenience store retailers in Detroit turned deadly last week, when the operator of a BP station allegedly confronted a Marathon-branded competitor across the street and was killed, The Associated Press reported.

The operator of the BP station, Jawad Bazzi, 46, allegedly fought with his competitor after watching him lower the price of regular gas by three cents to $2.93 per gallon, police told the AP. Then, the Marathon station operator allegedly fired a gun at Bazzi, shooting him at least once in the head, according to the report.

"That is what the argument was about. It was a difference of three cents," Detroit Deputy Police Chief Claudia Barden-Jackson told the AP. "We as consumers are incensed about the price of gas, but you never think of it in terms of the suppliers."

The Marathon operator was arrested and the station closed, but no charges had been filed as of late Friday, the report stated.

Another weird but true report comes out of Marina, Calif., where a Shell-branded gas station operator died after four months of fasting, to protest the power of major oil companies and the high price of gas, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Mehdi Shahbazi, 65, died last week of liver failure at Stanford Hospital. At his former station in Marina, Calif., a memorial has been erected of flowers, cards and signs, the report stated.

Two years ago at the site, Shahbazi posted a sign that read "Consumers' pain is Big Oil's unearned profit!" according to the report.

The protest caused him to lose his eight gas stations and his home, and last month, a court decision gave Shell Oil legal control over his last remaining station, the newspaper reported. Shahbazi had been sure he would win the case, and after the decision, his health declined, his nephew, Kaz Ajir of Marina, Calif., told the Mercury News.

Shahbazi was one of 44 other retailers who sued Exxon over gas pricing and won a partial victory, Ajir told the paper. Two years ago, he protested against Shell by handing out fliers claiming that oil companies manipulated gas prices and tried to drive franchise owners out of business, the report stated. He hoped to initiate a class-action lawsuit against oil companies, with the goal of paying refunds to customers, the report stated.

The actions resulted in Shell filing a lawsuit against Shahbazi, and the operator counter-suing, claiming freedom of speech, according to the report. Then, Shell terminated his lease, and fenced off the gas island at his station. Shahbazi continued selling products inside the store and operating the car wash at the location, but lost his house due to foreclosure, according to the report.

In June, Shahbazi began a liquid-only fast, and was hospitalized in September, the report stated.

Shahbazi immigrated to the U.S. from Iran when he was in his 20s and worked for his brother's gas station in Los Angeles, according to the report.

"He came here with nothing," Ajir told the paper. "He was a self-made individual."

A private service was held last week in Freemont, Calif. He is survived by his wife, Valerie Shahbazi; two sons, Saam, 22, and Kayvon, 14; brother, Max Shahbazi and sister, Bobbie Ajir, the report stated.