One of the first people to encounter Santa Monica shooting suspect John Zawahri was Debra Fine of Westwood Hills. She was lucky to survive. Fine was driving home from a singing lesson in Santa Monica. She decided to take a side street, because she figured traffic would be backed up due to President Obama’s visit. Then she saw a man dressed in black holding an automatic rifle. Fine initially thought the man was part of the President’s security team. Fine said when the gunman turned to look at her, she knew something was wrong. The first bullet hit Fine in her left shoulder. She said the gunman fired more rounds into the car, hitting her four times on her left side. Fine could smell the smoke from Zawahri’s house that was burning nearby. She thought of her 15-year-old twins. But Zawahri did not come back to her car. He forced the woman in the other car to drive him towards Santa Monica College. Fine said she’s grateful to the neighbors who rushed out to help her. She is healing now emotionally and physically but says there’s still shrapnel in her body and she faces more surgeries.
A former Disney Executive, Debra Fine, has launched several media companies. She is now involved in a startup marketing consultancy helping to devise, implement, growth strategies for consumer goods and media companies. She’s also leading a foundation to help victims of violent crimes. “I like to be in the game”, she says. “What drives me is a sense of restlessness but mainly passion and vision.”