A 75-year-old Marina del Rey man, whom friends said worked as a structural engineer on building projects in downtown Los Angeles, was found days after he died in an apparent suicide at his home, authorities said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a third-story apartment in the 13900 block of Bora Bora Way in Marina del Rey Thursday, October 15th, where the man was found on the balcony with a single gunshot wound that was apparently self-inflicted, Sheriff’s homicide Det. Kevin Lowe said.

The man, identified by the county coroner as Mostafa Mahmoud Zayed, is believed to have died Monday, October 12th, Lowe said. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be suicide, coroner spokesman Ed Winter said. A suicide note was found at the scene, Lowe said.

Some neighbors told investigators that they noticed Zayed’s body, which was crouched on a chair, earlier in the week but did not call police then because they thought it was part of a Halloween display, Lowe said.

Marina del Rey resident Austin Raishbrook, who owns a news agency and went to the scene after hearing that a body was discovered, said he was also told by some neighbors that they thought it was a Halloween display. Raishbrook said he could see Zayed’s body “in plain view” from the street but understands how some could misinterpret what they saw.

Lowe said he too, sees how one’s perception could be obscured due to the third-story balcony and bedding that partially covered the railing. Raishbrook added that there was rainy weather earlier in the week that may have been a factor, but was still surprised that no one called the police just to be certain.

Authorities were called after a person went to the apartment and found Zayed dead, Lowe said.

Friends and neighbors of Zayed called him a well liked and highly educated man who was an accomplished structural engineer.

“He was the epitome of a gentle man. He was a very trustworthy and reliable friend,” said friend Patricia K.D., who has lived next to Zayed since 2000.

Zayed, who had lived in the Marina apartment complex for 34 years, was a “brilliant structural engineer” who worked on high-rise towers in downtown Los Angeles such as the former US Bank building, she said. Originally from Egypt, Zayed loved the opera and classical music, spoke French and attended plays, she said.

Another friend of Zayed, Dr. Jim Moore, remembered him as a well traveled man who had plenty of stories to tell.

“He was a swell fellow all around and highly educated,” recalls Moore, who knew Zayed for over five years. “You could sit with him easily and listen to stories all night long. He was just a wonderful man.”

Some of those who knew Zayed expressed disbelief that the cause of his death has been classified as suicide.

“It’s totally outside of his character as far as we knew,” said Patricia K.D., who called Zayed a dear friend.

A memorial service for Zayed was held in Whittier Monday, October 19th.

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