Crime Claims Two Jewelers’ Lives

Two jewelers died as the result of crimes on the same day in the first week of July.

Mehmood Ghaznavi, 52, of Houston, and James Wilder, 69, of Gulfport, Miss., were both killed during robberies on July 5. The crimes are not believed to be connected.

According to the Houston Police Department, two suspects entered Ghaznavi’s store, Java Gold Jewelry, around 8:15 p.m. on July 5. During the attempted robbery, the store owner and one of the suspects exchanged shots. Both suspects fled the scene on foot.

Ghaznavi suffered a fatal bullet wound to the chest. Another male not believed to be involved in the robbery also suffered a gunshot wound; he was transported to a local hospital, where doctors expect him to survive.

Anthony Lee Parks, 23, has been charged with Ghaznavi’s murder. His attorneys say the shooting was in self-defense since the jeweler followed him out of the store and shot at him twice, according to the local press.

Wilder, owner of World Gold & Silver Buyers in Gulfport, died as the result of injuries suffered during a robbery, Gulfport Police deputy commander George Chaix tells JCK.

“A customer came into the store and heard someone moaning but didn’t see anyone,” Chaix says. “The person looked over the counter and saw that Wilder was bleeding from the head.” Wilder was transported to the University of South Alabama medical center where he was treated for head trauma injuries and later died. Chaix says Wilder’s death is being investigated as capital murder.

John Kennedy, president of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, tells JCK that robbery-related deaths of jewelry personnel have decreased over the past decade. “Every one is a tragedy, and we don’t want any to happen, but in terms of numbers we’re down,” Kennedy says.