Detroit Gas Station Owner Charged With Killing Rival

Tuesday, November 20th 2007, 7:11 am
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ A gas station owner was charged Monday with the shooting death of a rival over an ongoing price war.

Hassan Masbouth, 51, has been in police custody since the Friday shooting outside his gas station in southwest Detroit. He is charged with open murder and using a firearm while committing a felony.

Police said Jawad Bazzi, 46, and several other men walked across the street to confront Masbouth after Masbouth lowered the price of regular gasoline at his station by three cents to $2.93 per gallon.

A fight broke out and, at some point, Masbouth shot Bazzi, police said. The two had been involved in an ongoing price war, prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.

Masbouth was ordered held without bond after his arraignment Monday. A preliminary hearing was set for Dec. 3, Detroit radio station WWJ reported.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Edison had argued for bond, claiming Masbouth was acting in self-defense.

``It is our position that Mr. Masbouth acted justifiably in defending himself, defending his place of business and defending his employees,'' Edison said at the arraignment.

Masbouth is accused of hitting Bazzi and another man with a baseball bat during the fight. Masbouth went inside the station and returned with a .38-caliber handgun, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press reported.

Bazzi was shot in the back of the head and abdomen after Masbouth was hit over the head with a pole used to change gas prices on signs at stations, according to the reports.

The Associated Press left a phone message seeking comment from Edison.

The open murder charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. The felony firearm charge carries a mandatory penalty of two years in prison.