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$15,000 Reward Offered in Slaying of Retiree


ATWATER VILLAGE — Nachko Paharkov long ago escaped armed invaders in his native Bulgaria and survived detention camps in Yugoslavia.

As a proud, naturalized American, Paharkov, 81, was enjoying retirement in Atwater Village last December, when a common street robber shot and killed him and wounded a friend, Los Angeles police say.

Two months later, the killer remains at large. To help frustrated investigators find him, Councilman John Ferraro announced Wednesday that the city has posted a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the bandit.

"It's important," the victim's widow, 80-year-old Rada Paharkov, said. "So he won't shoot anybody else."

She and her husband, along with a close friend, Nicolia Baikusey, 67, of Hollywood, dined together at a Los Feliz restaurant on the evening of Dec. 1. When they parked in the Paharkovs' driveway on Glenhurst Avenue, a man with a rifle stepped from a car that had pulled up behind them. The gunman demanded their wallets.

"He went to Nicolia first," Rada Paharkov recalled. "Nicolia gave him the money. He shot him anyway. Then he shot my husband. It was very fast--like lightning."

Baikusey, who had been Nachko Paharkov's friend since they were young men in Bulgaria, is still recovering from wounds to his hand and stomach, police said. Paharkov died of a single shot to the chest.

Detective Loren Zimmerman said he is anxious to arrest the gunman, who apparently fired without provocation.

"What value are you getting in shooting an 81-year-old man?" he asked. "And neither one had much money. It's a very senseless crime."

Zimmerman released a composite drawing of the killer, described as a man in his early 20s, with a flattop haircut. The man stands about 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and weighs about 150 pounds.

The detective said he is also looking for the car used in the holdup--a brown, older model foreign compact with traffic accident damage on the right side, just in front of the rear tire.

Police said anyone with information should contact Northeast Division homicide detectives at (213) 485-2566.

Nachko Paharkov's family and friends said he had triumphed over many hardships before the robber ended his life.

He served in the Bulgarian army as a young man. But he and his friend, Baikusey, fled their homeland when Communist forces took over. The men were captured in Yugoslavia and imprisoned separately. Both were eventually freed and reunited in Italy.

In the early 1950s, Paharkov immigrated to Canada, where he ran a restaurant in Montreal, and married Rada in 1963.

The couple eventually moved to Denver and opened another restaurant. Paharkov was accosted while returning from a bank there during the mid-1970s, his widow said. In that incident, a robber took his money, shot Paharkov in the leg, tied him up and left him under a bridge.

The Paharkovs retired to the Los Angeles area in 1979, attracted by its large Bulgarian immigrant community, Rada Paharkov said. She and her husband had been sworn in as American citizens in Denver, and Nachko Paharkov became active in Republican politics.

"He loved America," his widow said.

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