Most Wanted: He fired 12 rounds into a car in Tustin, and hasn’t been seen in 15-plus years

By Greg Hardesty

Editor’s note: This is an ongoing series about most-wanted cases of interest.

Suspect: Shadi Jamal Abbasi

Wanted for: Attempted murder

Current age: 41

Description: 5 feet 7 inches, 230 pounds, black hair, brown eyes

Date of crime: Nov. 21, 2000

Last known whereabouts: Living in an apartment in Tustin

Last seen: May 2002

Victim: Undisclosed; he suffered non life-threatening gunshot wounds to his hand

Details of crime: It was a big marijuana sale for the 24-year-old drug dealer.

So Shadi Jamal Abbasi asked some friends to come to the apartment in Tustin before the buyers showed up.

And, just in case, Abbasi told one of them to bring a gun.

Shadi Jamal Abbasi photo courtesy of TPD

Sure enough, things went south after the buyers came with $20,000 in cash to buy five pounds of marijuana from Abbasi, according to Det. Eric Haug of the TPD — a 13-year veteran of the agency who has been a detective in General Investigations the last seven years.

Guns came out, and the buyers — pulling off a classic “drug rip” — fled with the cash and marijuana.

Abbasi armed himself with his friend’s .45-caliber pistol and gave chase.

He saw a white sedan making a U-turn near the apartment in the area of Newport Avenue and Sycamore Avenue, and figured the buyers were in the car.

Tustin PD Det. Eric Haug is the point man on his agency’s Most Wanted cases.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

So Abbasi unloaded his entire magazine of 12 rounds into the car, which happened to be driven by an innocent motorist in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The motorist was injured in the hand and taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The buyers were long gone.

The TPD recovered the marijuana; one of the three buyers tossed it over a fence while fleeing the apartment. The five pounds of weed was in a duffle bag.

A few days after the shooting, Abassi was arrested and confessed to the above account, Haug said.

He was charged with attempted murder and other felonies and, while out on bail, dutifully showed up to his court hearings.

Tustin PD Det. Eric Haug.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Then, in May 2002, Abassi missed a court hearing and hasn’t been seen by authorities since then.

The violence involved in firing a weapon into a moving vehicle was enough to get Abassi on the TPD’s Most Wanted list.

“He could have very easily killed somebody,” said Haug, who is the point person for the 10 outstanding cases on the TPD’s most wanted list —- a rogue’s gallery of suspects that include suspected child molesters, killers, a carjacker and burglars.

“There are people who need to go to jail,” Haug said. “We know who they are. We just need to find them.”

Abbasi is a native of Jordan with several relatives in Southern California and it does not appear he has left the United States, Haug said.

Haug suspects he is likely living in Southern California and, during the 15-plus years he’s been in the wind, likely has graduated to more serious drug deals.

“I think this is a lifestyle for him,” Haug said, “and I don’t foresee him wanting to give it up.”

Most likely, he has assumed another identity — and maybe is being protected by drug dealers he likely still is doing business with, Haug said.

“I think he’s findable,” Haug said. “I’m surprised he’s stayed off the radar for this long. But I think he’s living among us.”

Haug praised the command staff at the TPD for devoting the resources needed to catch bad guys on the lam.

“They want to bring these people to justice, just as the victims want to see that happen,” Haug said. “We can’t just let these cases go and hope that some other law enforcement agency picks them up.”

If you have any information about this case or the suspect’s whereabouts, contact Det. Eric Haug of the Tustin PD’s Investigations Unit at 714-573-3246 or ehaug@tustinca.org. Anonymous tips also can be made to OC Crime Stoppers.

Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC