A Sydney personal trainer who was gunned down in Los Angeles has been remembered as an “exceptional human being” by his friends.
Azuma “Zoomi” Bennett, 30, was found dead slumped in the doorway of a medical marijuana dispensary on Friday morning (local time) — just weeks before loved ones say he was due to fly home for a friend’s wedding.
Local media reported Mr Bennett was shot up to eight times, with homicide detectives now investigating the incident. No suspects have been charged.
One of Mr Bennett’s friends, Tony Del Vecchio from Bondi Boxing Club, said the personal trainer was “shot several times” and “point blank” range.
“[I’m] absolutely devastated," he told 9News.
“He just exuded happiness and he was the life of the party."
The publication claims Mr Bennett was involved in an argument before the shooting.
Trainer moved to US after dad's death
Mr Bennett moved to the US more than two years ago and had been working with underprivileged children in downtown LA, Fitness First trainer Brad Spence told Mosman Collective.
The 30-year-old dual citizen worked at Fitness First Mosman for four years before trekking overseas following the death of his dad.
“He left Australia just before Covid hit and was about to come back home for a mate’s wedding in September,” Mr Spence said.
“Unfortunately the groom found out about Azuma’s death while on his buck's weekend.”
Another friend, photographer Denise Pope, told the publication “Zoom was a gifted young man” who “lit up the room”.
'We lost one of the best ones out there'
A GoFundMe has been created by Mr Bennett’s friends in LA with the hopes of raising money to fly his body back to Australia.
“Azuma was one of a kind. An outstanding athlete, fighter, teacher trainer, and friend/mate to so many,” it reads.
“We lost one of the best ones out there. He did not deserve this.
“We kindly ask the fight community worldwide to work with us in helping ease the financial burden that has been shockingly placed unexpectedly on Azuma's family.
“As many of you know, Azuma was from Australia and we need to get him home to his family.”
The money raised by the GoFundMe will also go toward flights for his devastated family, who will travel to LA to take care of his personal belongings.
“He also left behind his beloved dog Keyshia who is currently in care of one of his close friends — but arrangements need to be made for her to go to her new home,” the page reads.
“Azuma loved that dog so much and we need to see that she is taken care of in his honour.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told the Sydney Morning Herald it will assist the 30-year-old’s family with bringing his body home.
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