Vegas developer’s death in Utah a mystery

Authorities in a small Southern Utah town are still trying to figure out why a former Las Vegas developer went to his neighbor’s house with a gun and ended up shot dead last week.

Funeral services for Stephen Aizenberg were held Wednesday near his native San Francisco, but his friends and family are no closer to understanding why he died.

Neither are investigators.

The 70-year-old was killed in his neighbor’s driveway July 17. Authorities say he walked across the street from his home and pointed a gun at a group of people gathered outside the neighbor’s home. A retired law enforcement officer, who was visiting the owners of the home, drew his own gun and shot Aizenberg when he “continued to approach them with his firearm aimed at them,” the sheriff’s office in Washington County, Utah, said.

Authorities would not identify the man who shot Aizenberg but said he remained at the scene and cooperated with the investigation.

The shooting took place in Silverado Court, a wealthy and secluded cul-de-sac in Leeds near St. George, about 135 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Homes there sell for $750,000 to $1 million.

On Wednesday, Washington County Sheriff’s Detective Nate Abbott said no arrests had been made in connection with Aizenberg’s death, and “we’re not anticipating any.”

The incident is being treated as a case of self-defense, though authorities still don’t know what prompted Aizenberg to do what he did. There was no history of disputes between the neighbors and no record of previous police calls involving Aizenberg.

Abbott said investigators canvassed the neighborhood and interviewed the man’s family members, but his motives remain unclear. One theory is that Aizenberg crossed the street to investigate a vehicle and people he didn’t think belonged at his neighbor’s house.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to determine that because we can’t interview him or know what his state of mind was,” Abbott said.

Both Aizenberg’s family and the owners of the home where he was shot have expressed shock and sorrow.

“There are no adequate words to express the sadness our family feels at this time,” Tammy Bleak told the Salt Lake Tribune on behalf of her relatives, Aizenberg’s neighbors. “We wish this tragedy had not occurred and pray that Mr. Aizenberg will be remembered and cherished for his life’s accomplishments and not ever defined by this one tragic event.”

The Aizenbergs in a statement said: “Our family may never have all of the answers about this senseless tragedy. But we know without a shadow of a doubt that Stephen dedicated himself for all of his 70 years to family, community philanthropy and faith.

“He lived a life committed to improving the lives of others, helping those in need and never wished harm on any soul.”

Aizenberg was a real estate developer, broker and general contractor in Las Vegas, where he built numerous single-family homes and luxury condo units, mostly in the northwest valley, and the Temple Beth Am synagogue in Summerlin. He also founded and built a private school called Centennial Academy, and was known to check on his various projects and interests in Nevada and California from the air while at the controls of his own helicopter.

In a 2008 interview with the Review-Journal’s View publication, he said he started the school because he wanted to “give something back to the community that gave so much to me. It was fate, and it was the right thing to do.”

Centennial Academy is now a Quest Academy charter school.

Aizenberg left behind three sons, a daughter, several grandchildren and other family.

Once the investigation into his death is complete, it will be submitted to the Washington County Attorney’s Office for review.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.