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The Miami Herald,  (FL)

August 1, 1996

Author: FRANK FERNANDEZ and DAVID KIDWELL Herald Staff Writers

[]Suspended from his job and plagued by his own mental demons, police said, Ayid M. Azzeh armed himself with a large carving knife and decided to vent his rage on those he believed were responsible: his co-workers.   When the rampage ended, hotel cook John Narcavage lay dead on the kitchen floor of a Fort Lauderdale beachfront resort. Two of his co-workers were seriously wounded. And Azzeh tried to run.   Distraught and confused, he didn’t get far.

Azzeh was arrested at a Tamarac hospital after his brother — aware of his psychiatric history — took him there to get help, police said.  A hotel cook with a college degree, Azzeh was charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the stabbing at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort, 3030 Holiday Dr. late Tuesday. He was being held without bail Wednesday night in the psychiatric ward of the Broward County Jail.

The two other men Azzeh allegedly attacked were recovering Wednesday at Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale.   Todd Katz of Oakland Park was listed in fair condition and Joshua B. Lustig of Parkland, a food products manager, was in critical but stable condition.

As investigators pieced together details of the stabbings, Azzeh’s family said they were stunned by the incident.

“We’re in shock, we’re all in shock,” said Azzeh’s uncle, who asked not to be identified. “Even with all his problems, he was always the calmest person, very, very subdued and very, very soft-spoken. I can’t believe he would do something like this.”

Mother had planned visit

Narcavage’s mother had already purchased airline tickets to fly down and visit her son in four weeks.  “He was going to take me to the Marriott to meet people,” said Carole Narcavage, who lives in Blakely, Pa. “He said they were nice people that he worked with.”   Her son had dreams of becoming a master chef, she said.  “He has loved restaurant work ever since he was 14 years old,” she said. “He wanted to better himself.”

The stabbing happened just past 10 p.m. in the employee area of the oceanfront resort.  Azzeh, 30, of Plantation, was apparently upset over being suspended from his job in the hotel’s kitchen, said Fort Lauderdale Police Capt. Jim Hurley. Azzeh, he said, had been suspended July 28 because he had vanished from work at the 624- room hotel without permission for two hours.   And, for some reason, Azzeh blamed John Narcavage at least in part for that suspension, Hurley added.

Family members said Wednesday Azzeh has had a substantial history of psychiatric problems.  Azzeh grew up living in a Palestinian refugee camp on Israel’s West Bank near Bethlehem, and immigrated to Kansas City in his early 20s to attend college, his uncle said. He earned an undergraduate degree in math from the University of Missouri, and wanted to study for a master’s degree.

Drove car off road

But his psychiatric troubles surfaced about two years ago after he drove his car off the road in Kansas City, his uncle said. “He apparently was trying to hurt himself.”  “He has been struggling with anger and depression for some time. But he was never violent,” his uncle said. “I don’t think he would ever hurt anyone.”   Shortly after graduation, Azzeh moved back to Israel, where his parents still reside, the uncle said. There, he was married, and the couple had a son, Audy; last year, Azzeh moved his family to Broward County to live near his brother in Plantation, Khader Azzeh, 35, and his wife.   That is when the emotional troubles began to surface, the uncle said. Azzeh’s depression returned; he was taking medication and wasn’t behaving normally.

“He was looking for work and was trying to get himself established,” the uncle said, “but everyone knew something was wrong.”  Last year, Khader Azzeh took his brother to Charter Hospital for treatment of depression. He has been on anti- depressant drugs ever since, the uncle said.   Last night, “Ayid came in all upset and distraught, and Khader didn’t know what had happened,” the uncle said. “(Khader) turned to his wife and asked if he had been taking his medicine. She thought he had been.”   Soon afterward, the uncle said, Ayid became so inconsolable that Khader Azzeh decided to take him to the University Hospital in Tamarac. Hospital officials called police.

“They had no idea what had happened when the police arrived,” the uncle said. “I feel so badly for the family of the man who was killed. And Ayid’s wife is in shock. She doesn’t even speak English.”

Copyright (c) 1996 The Miami Herald
Record Number:  9602180313