Trabuco Canyon Search Reaches Tragic Conclusion

A 25-year-old Aliso Viejo man who worried family members with social media posts was discovered near the Holy Jim Trail, dead from a gunshot wound.

A despondent Aliso Viejo man was the target of a large search and rescue operation in Trabuco Canyon on Monday afternoon, but about five hours after it began, the episode reached a tragic conclusion.

An Orange County Sheriff's Department K-9 unit found the body of Adam Razani, 25, who apparently killed himself with a handgun.

The search, which involved bloodhounds, patrol units and a helicopter, began after officers were dispatched at 1:28 p.m. along the Holy Jim Trail near where the victim's vehicle was found by family members.

According to Lt. Joe Balicki, relatives contacted deputies to report a missing person after discovering disturbing posts on Razani's Facebook page. Late in the morning, Razani left a Facebook post from near Trabuco Canyon that read "Forgive me everybody...I'm sorry".

He also posted an Instagram titled "My final photo"; it appeared to show Razani's thigh, kneeling on the ground, with a handgun resting on his camouflage pants.

About 9:30 p.m., Razani's father, Mike Razani, posted a photo of his son and this message on Adam's Facebook page: "Today, I lost my son Adam Razani in a bad way. I will always love my son. Please give me and my wife some time and space to process the bad news. I will talk to you guys later."

According to Balicki, the victim's sister contacted OCSD and informed police that Razani was despondent and may be suicidal, based upon the social media posts, but also that he was believed to be armed.

Police converged on the Holy Jim Trail in Trabuco Canyon. "He was considered armed, but there was more concern about the threat of suicide than the community being in danger," Balicki said. "He hadn't committed any crimes or made any threats to the welfare of anyone else."

Around 6:30 p.m., his body was discovered on a ridge above the vehicle, about 100 yards away, Balicki said.

Though Razani was close to the vehicle, Balicki indicated heat may have played a factor in taking so long to find the body.

"It's my understanding the bloodhounds pick up scents and go in all different directions," Balicki said. "The problem with this time of year is that bloodhounds don't pick up scents in the heat, especially midday. The helicopter, they get a visual, but when it comes to using the infrared for heat signatures, that doesn't work in the heat. I didn't think they'd find him until tonight."

Razani was discovered by a patrol K-9 unit.

OC Weekly reported that Razani was a technician in the Air Force following his enlistment in 2008 after graduating from Saddleback College; in 2011 he served in Afghanistan until earlier this year.

Balicki said Razani's family did not indicate why he was despondent. The young man left a Facebook post from near Mission Viejo about two hours before his final post that read: "Life is a trip. Confused...." Both posts were made with his cell phone.

Before that, his posts seemed to represent a person in good spirits, with a couple of comments about "great food" and being good to go on Sunday: "Kick back. BBQ check. Meat and buns — check. Beers and Champagne. GTG for the sunday."

Razani went on terminal leave from the Air Force in late March. In February, he purchased the car of his dreams, he wrote on Facebook, an Infinity G35. In a January 24 entry, he wrote: "I miss being home with my family. 9 more weeks man, and I will be living the So Cal dream once again."

Razani celebrated his birthday last month, July 31. He was a 2005 graduate of Aliso Niguel High in Aliso Viejo, and studied biochemistry at Saddleback. According to his Facebook page, he enjoyed movies and clubs, and researching topics such as chemistry and astronomy.

Balicki said as many as 20 or more sheriff's personnel took part in the search. "It's a lot for someone who hadn't committed a crime," he said. "The fact that he had firearms and was out in the open—it's not against the law to take your own life, so if someone threatened suicide in their home, we'll take it seriously and respond, but you're not going to force entry into a home if they threaten to take some pills.

"If you've got someone who is out in public and could come into contact with someone else, we're going to take that a little more serious," Balicki said. "Armed and out in the open, you have no idea what could happen, and so you want to err on the side of caution."

Balicki, a watch commander in South Orange County, said it's not unusual to have five to 10 suicide threats in the course of a shift, though most don't end as tragically as Monday's.

Amar Rao August 30, 2012 at 01:00 AM
The countdown was to Aug. 21. He killed himself on Aug. 27. If you look closer, the "countdown" was most likely to a decision on his DoD "separation package" that he mentioned earlier. Also, I unwittingly got caught up in the police search, as I was four-wheeling in the area at the time, and while my vehicle was parked in a shady spot, a sheriff's chopper started buzzing it, and, sure enough, about a half-hour later, a couple' of deputies pulled up behind me, saw that I coincidentally fit their description of Adam, a young Middle-Eastern male (although I am Indian, but brown nevertheless), and pulled me at gunpoint from my vehicle (yes, that's the first time that had ever happened to me), and cuffed me, before quickly establishing that I was NOT the person they were looking for. Undoubtedly one of the strangest days of my life,and it became stranger when I learned he shared his last name with a middle-school classmate of mine who had been killed in Iraq in 2004, and furthermore had POSTED a message on (Omead) Razani's LA Times memorial page just before me. Just crazy. RIP both of you guys.
Janie D. September 02, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Anila... I am sorry for your loss, but one man's suffering does not minimize that of another's, nor the loss that other loved ones are going through. Judging the reason for either is not yours to make.
Tasha September 07, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Please do not do that!!!! You do not know what demons this man was fighting himself. He was a wonderful man who I was lucky enough to know and serve with! Military members are constantly fightin internal demons and for you to down play whatever it is that he was going through without even a once of knowledge to what is was is why people choose not to go to anyone for help. Because people like you make it seem like its a bad thing or its not big deal!! I understand you have a loss of your own I had an uncle die of cancer while I was deployed and I was upset but I was more moved and hurt and had chills when I saw the coffins coming from the war zones with american flags drapped over them with green berets on them with blood spatter on there. Think of how you would be mentally if you had to deal with such images and worse! Again Adam was an amazing person who I honestly completely at a loss about all this. I find it terribly disrespectfull in general for people to make such comments about anyone. R.I.P. ADAM RAZANI!! You will be forever missed!!! <3
OCisastrangeplace September 09, 2012 at 09:09 AM
there's something wrong and seriously broken in you. Clearly you are unaware of the fact that there's a suicide epidemic in our country when it comes to our service men and women. Are you aware of the fact that today, suicide is the most frequent cause of death among Army forces, surpassing combat deaths and motor vehicle accidents, according to Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff. From 2004 to 2009, the suicide rate within the force doubled. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2012/0817/Suicide-epidemic-in-Army-July-was-worst-month-Pentagon-says you live in this country in a cushy affluent area and you have the audacity to say such vulgar things about a military vet who served this country honorably. How dare you, you should be ashamed of yourself.
yama Nassery October 09, 2012 at 07:39 AM
Today i went to get my car taken care of at Adam's fathers place in Lake forest and saw his picture. Having just come back from Afghanistan myself 2 weeks ago it was really hard for me. Today was Adams 40th day since his passing. I pray that no parent ever had to deal with a tragic thing like this and wish them peace.


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