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Israeli-born father kills son, himself in US

August 12, 2013

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (AP) — An Israeli-born software engineer who shot his 9-year-old son to death before killing himself in the U.S. was upset over custody arrangements and had warned his wife that he would kill either her or himself and the boy, court documents say.

The shootings occurred during supervised visitation with the boy on Sunday. A supervisor was present when Muni Savyon, 54, took out a handgun and shot 9-year-old Joshua Savyon before shooting himself, the New Hampshire attorney general’s office said.

The father had sent an email to a friend suggesting he was suicidal before the shootings, said Rabbi Levi Krinsky of Chabad Lubavitch in Manchester. Krinsky said Muni Savyon had been depressed after recently returning from his brother’s funeral in Israel, but he saw him last week and had no concerns he would harm himself or someone else.

“What would provoke him to take his life and his son’s life? I don’t think anyone can figure that out,” said Krinsky, who said Savyon attended synagogue occasionally. “My heart goes out to the family.”

On Sundays, the Young Women’s Christian Association center is open for supervised child visitation and custody exchanges. Krinsky said Savyon and the boy’s mother shared custody of the boy after parting ways years ago.

Born in Israel, Savyon was a naturalized citizen who lived in several Western states before coming to New England, where he worked as a software engineer. The couple’s marital status wasn’t clear. Krinsky said the couple was divorced, but law enforcement officials said the two were separated.

Law enforcement officials said the relationship had been contentious at times, and Muni Savyon had previously threatened to kill himself, his son’s mother and their son.

WMUR-TV reported that the mother was granted a protective order against Savyon last year, saying “I am afraid for the safety of me and my son.”

But Ellen Savyon Vig, who was once married to Savyon and had remained friends with him after their 1997 divorce, described him as kind-hearted. She said he was especially close to his brother and he loved his son.

“He was nonviolent. He would try to help anyone he could. He was a really nice guy,” she said.

New Hampshire’s attorney general said the center had used a metal detector on Savyon in the past but did not use it Sunday.

YWCA president Monica Zulauf wouldn’t comment on that or other details of the shooting but emphasized that possibility of violence exists for all the families who use the center for supervised visits, or else they wouldn’t need to be supervised.

“I’d like to see 15 layers of security and safety, but people who are going to commit an act of violence ... they’re going to do it. You can do as much as you can, reasonably, but this man was determined,” she said.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin said because of budget cuts, there was no other security in the building Sunday.

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