The body of 75-year-old man sat decomposing on his Marina del Rey balcony for days because neighbors thought the lifeless figure was part of a Halloween display and didn't call police.
Mostafa Mahmoud Zayed had apparently been dead since Monday with a single gunshot wound to one eye. He was slumped over a chair on the third-floor balcony of his apartment on Bora Bora Way, said cameraman Austin Raishbrook, who owns RMG News and was on the scene Thursday when authorities were alerted to the body.
Neighbors told Raishbrook that they noticed the body Monday "but didn't bother calling authorities because it looked like a Halloween dummy," he said.
"The body was in plain view of the entire apartment complex [and] they all didn't do anything," Raishbrook said. "It's very strange. It did look unreal, to be honest."
An investigator with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the case is an "apparent suicide," and declined to comment further.
Coroner's officials were called to the complex at 6:42 p.m. Thursday, according to Capt. John Kades of the county coroner's office. The official cause of death has not be announced. On Friday, Bora Bora Way was quiet with neighbors and workers going about their routines. From the street, which runs along a boat-filled marina, no evidence of the previous night's discovery remained.
"I just knew him to say 'Hello,' and he was sweet and gentle," Patricia Kingery, out for a walk, said of Zayed. "He was always well-dressed and obviously active."
She pointed to what she said was Zayed's corner apartment, with two balconies, one facing the marina and the other looking over a grassy area with a man-made brook and fountain.
The railing of the latter balcony was draped with what appeared to be bedding.
Earl Kepler, a UPS executive visiting from the Washington, D.C., area, said the complex seemed "a little lonely," with few people out and about. He wasn't surprised to hear that the dead man went undiscovered for a few days.
"There doesn't seem to be a lot of community involvement," he said.