Details Emerge About SaMo Gunman’s Background
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KTLA) — A graduation ceremony was scheduled at Santa Monica College on Tuesday, as the investigation continued into Friday’s deadly shooting rampage.
The terrifying shooting spree across the city ended when the gunman, 23-year-old John Zawahri, was shot and killed by police at the library on campus.
Among the five people killed were Zawahri’s father, Samir, 55, and older brother, Christopher, 25.
They were shot and killed in their home on Yorkshire Avenue, which was then set ablaze.
Zawahri then carjacked a woman and forced her to drive him to SMC, firing shots along the way, police said. Three more victims were gunned down on the campus.
Investigators were still trying to piece together what might have motivated the shootings.
Zawahri reportedly spent time in UCLA’s psychiatric ward back in 2006.
He was sent there after a teacher at Olympic High School saw him surfing the Internet in class looking for assault rifles, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He had also reportedly told a classmate that there were students he wanted to hurt.
Police were trying to determine how Zawahri, with a history of mental problems, was able to get his hands on a semi-automatic weapon and so much ammunition.
He was carrying 40 large-capacity magazines, according to the Times.
The ammunition was strapped to his body — including his chest and thighs — as well as in pouches in his clothing and protective vest. More ammunition was found in a black bag.
It also remained unclear why Zawahri targeted Santa Monica College.
He sporadically attended classes there in 2009 and 2010, taking courses in animation and video game development. There were no disciplinary problems, school officials said.
Zawahri was clearly upset over his parents’ bitter divorce, investigators said.
The couple separated on at least two occasions, with his father filing for divorce in 1993, court records indicated. The pair subsequently reconciled.
In 1998, Zawahri’s mother, Randa Abdou, moved out, taking her two sons with her.
Several months later, she filed a restraining order against Zawahri’s father, claiming that he was controlling, abusive and violent, the Times reported.
She wrote that he pulled her hair and punched her after he saw her driving to her Beverly Hills waitress job with a male friend.
“If I had a gun, it would be over,” she quoted him as saying.
Abdou did not press charges, and the restraining order was dismissed after she failed to appear in court.
There was no record that the pair officially ended their marriage, but at the time of the shooting they had been living apart for years, according to the Times.
Abdou released a statement through a neighbor on Monday expressing “great sadness.”
“As may be assumed, I am in mourning for my family and those who were also affected by this horrific tragedy over the past few days,” Abdou said.
“I cannot express my great sadness for the families who are also suffering at this terrible time,” she said.
“I do ask the media to please give me time to grieve and come to grips with the overwhelming sorrow. This has befallen all of us.”
Meantime, over 1,000 people gathered on the campus of SMC on Monday night for a vigil to honor those who lost their lives.
The latest victim to be identified was 67-year-old Margarita Gomez. She collected recyclables on campus and donated them to her church. The other victims were 26-year-old Marcela Franco and her father, 68-year-old Carlos Navarro Franco, a longtime groundskeeper at the college.
Marcela had just enrolled at the school for summer classes, authorities said. She and her father were going to buy textbooks when they were shot inside his SUV in a parking lot on campus.
The 6 p.m. graduation ceremony on Tuesday at SMC’s Corsair Field was also expected to be part memorial service.
A memorial fund has been set up for the Franco family by the college.
Donations can be made via the college website or by mail to the Santa Monica College Foundation, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica 90405.