Story Summary

Deadly Santa Monica Shooting Rampage

bus-shooting

Police respond to reports of a shooting on Friday, June 7, 2013.

An alleged gunman was shot and killed by police at Santa Monica College on Friday after killing five people in a series of shootings across the city.

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SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KTLA) — After a rash of shootings, Santa Monica residents held a vigil on Sunday night calling for peace and unity.

Organizers said they were prompted by a series of recent killings, including a gunman’s shooting rampage near Santa Monica College on June 7 that left six dead, including the gunman.

The vigil started at the corner of Kansas and Yorkshire avenues, the focal point of the shooting rampage near SMC.

Police fatally shot John Zawahri, 23, inside the college library after he had killed five people, including his father and brother.

During the vigil, concerned residents followed a route where several killings happened, to memorialize the victims.

The deadly SMC rampage was followed by three other shooting incidents that left one dead and two others injured.

On June 11, two men were shot near Santa Monica College.

Two suspected gang members were later charged with murder and a third man was charged with being an accessory in connection with the shootings.

There was no indication that the incidents were related, police said.

The gunman who killed five people during a shooting rampage through Santa Monica left a farewell note expressing remorse for killing his father and brother, police said Thursday evening.
John Zawahri, 23, also wrote that he hoped his mother would be cared for financially and said goodbye to several friends, the Santa Monica Police Department said.
Read more: http://ktla.com/2013/06/13/santa-monica-shooter-left-remorseful-farewell-note-police-say/#ixzz2WAHAUDib

SANTA MONICA, Calif.  — The gunman who killed five people during a shooting rampage through Santa Monica left a farewell note expressing remorse for killing his father and brother, police said Thursday evening.

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John Zawahri (Santa Monica PD)

John Zawahri, 23, also wrote that he hoped his mother would be cared for financially and said goodbye to several friends, the Santa Monica Police Department said.

Police also revealed Thursday Zawahri had been denied a firearm in 2011.

The revelation raises more questions about how Zawahri got the semi-authomatic weapon he used in the attack.

Law enforcement sources told The Times Wednesday that the weapon was put together from various parts, possibly in an attempt to circumvent the state’s restrictions on such guns.

While certain types of AR-15-style rifles are banned in California, it’s legal to purchase parts that can be used to assemble and customize the guns.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

Local News
06/11/13

Shooting Victims Remembered at SaMo College Graduation

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KTLA) — The violent shootings in Santa Monica prompted security concerns at Santa Monica College’s graduation on Tuesday.

Dozens of officers patrolled the area before, during, and after the 6 p.m. ceremony. The graduation went off without trouble, however, there was some anxiety in the crowd.

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Graduation ceremony held at Santa Monica College (June 12, 2013)

“A lot of people didn’t want to show up today,” graduate Gaby Rodriguez said. “They’re worried about what could happen because of the shooting on Friday.”

Just days earlier, bullets sliced through the air on campus. Rodriguez said she was nearly caught in the gunfire.

John Zawahri, 23, was armed to the teeth when he went on a murderous path, according to police.

He killed five people before he was gunned down by officers inside Santa Monica College’s library.

“I feel sad for those who suffered,” one graduating student said.

“On campus, it’s been very somber since then,” anthropology graduate Robert Contreras said.

For those who died, a moment of silence brought the ceremony to a quiet halt.

Speakers assured the graduates that what they had been given in school was stronger than any gun.

“Education is the greatest weapon you can use to change this world,” Santa Monica Church Pastor Lloyd Torgerson said, speaking up on stage during the ceremony.

With the hopes and dreams of those who died pushing them onward, the graduates knew they had more purpose than ever.

“The best thing that you can do is just keep moving on with your life and go on from there,” Contreras said.

“Everyone has motivation to keep going for those that were lost,” Rodriguez added

Santa Monica College’s president announced memorial funds set up in honor of the Franco family and Margarita Gomez. Those victims all had ties to the school.

The president said he hoped it would give the families some peace.

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.

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John Zawahri, 23

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.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KTLA) — Hundreds of people gathered Monday evening for a vigil at Santa Monica College to honor those killed in last week’s shooting rampage.

Right outside the library where police ended suspected shooter John Zawahri’s violent spree, mourners lit candles to try to brighten up the horror that happened in the community.

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Mourners gather at Santa Monica City College for an emotional vigil. (June 10, 2013)

The number of victims killed in the rampage increased to five on Sunday.

Marcela Franco, 26, died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica College officials announced.

Franco had just enrolled at the school for summer classes, according to authorities.

She and her father, Carlos Navarro Franco, 68, a longtime groundskeeper at the college, were shot while inside the father’s SUV in a parking lot on the campus.

He was reportedly taking his daughter to the college bookstore to buy textbooks at the time.

The mother of the 23-year-old suspected gunman released a statement on Monday through her neighbor 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,” Randa 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.”

The rampage began around noon on Friday, at the home of Abdou’s former husband, 55-year-old Samir Zawahri.

Zawahri and the couple’s son, 25-year-old Christopher were shot to death. Their home was then set on fire.

The suspect then shot and wounded a woman who driving by, police said.

He then carjacked a woman at gunpoint and forced her to drive to Santa Monica college, according to police. She was not injured.

Along the way, Zawahri allegedly fired at a city bus traveling down Cloverfield Boulevard near Pico Boulevard. Three people suffered minor injuries.

Then, the gunman allegedly fired at the Franco’s SUV, which crashed into a parking-lot wall.

An unidentified woman in her 50s was shot and killed outside the library on campus.

Zawahri then made his way into the library, where he took aim at students, firing at least 70 rounds, police said.

Zawahri was shot and killed by police officers at the library.

The gunman was armed with more than three dozen large-capacity ammunition magazines, sources familiar with the investigation told the L.A. 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.

According to the Times, Zawahri had approximately 40 magazines each capable of holding 30 bullets.

The motive behind the shootings remained under investigation, but law enforcement sources said Zawahri had struggled over his parents’ bitter divorce several years ago.

He also had a history of mental issues, sources said, including a short hospitalization.

The 6 p.m. graduation ceremony on Tuesday at SMC’s Corsair Field will also be part memorial service for the Franco family.

A memorial fund has been set up for the 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.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KTLA) — Investigators on Monday were still trying to piece together a motive in Friday’s deadly shooting rampage in Santa Monica.

SMsuspectJohn Zawahri, 23, allegedly shot and killed his father, brother and three other people before he was killed in a shootout with police.

There was a growing memorial outside the family’s home on Yorkshire Avenue for 55-year-old Samir Zawahri and 25-year-old Chris Zawahri.

Investigators were looking at family connections as a possible motive because the father and brother were the first victims.

They were shot before the house was set ablaze, police said.

The family reportedly moved into the house at least two decades ago, but then the mother and father divorced.

John Zawahri had lived with his father, and his brother went to live with their mother, investigators said.

Zawahri was extremely affected by the very bitter divorce, according to neighbors.

Santa Monica police had visited the home back in 2006. They would not give any additional details because Zawahri was a juvenile at the time.

Zawahri was “heavily armed and ready for battle,” when he headed to the campus of Santa Monica College, police said.

He was armed with a weapon similar to an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, officials said.

He was wearing fatigues, knee pads and a utility vest, and was carrying a duffel bag with a .44-caliber handgun, a .233-caliber rifle and at least 20 loaded magazines.

Zawahri had the capability of firing 1,300 rounds of ammunition, according to authorities.

Some neighbors said that Zawahri had a fascination with weapons and suffered from mental problems. He may have been institutionalized briefly, though that was not confirmed.

He may have had ties to Santa Monica College around 2010, but school officials have not confirmed whether he was a student.

Zawahri was shot and killed by police at the library on campus. He died at the scene. Zawahri would have turned 24 on Saturday.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KTLA) — A series of tearful memorials were held Sunday in Santa Monica for the victims of Friday’s deadly shooting rampage.

Among those remembered was Marcela Franco, a 26-year-old who had registered to attend classes at Santa Monica College.

Franco died at the hospital on Sunday, according to officials at SMC.

“I am saddened to report that Marcela Franco passed away this morning at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center,” Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang said in a statement posted on the school’s website.

Marcela’s death made her the fifth victim to die in the shooting rampage.

Her 68-year-old father Carlos Franco, a longtime groundskeeper at the college, was also killed.

Friends and family members of the Francos tried to come to terms with their deaths at a prayer vigil on Sunday at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Santa Monica.

A memorial fund in Carlos Franco’s name was set up by the SMC Foundation to assist the family. For more information on the fund, click here.

The man believed to have carried out a deadly shootings was officially identified by authorities as 23-year-old John Zawahri.

His father Samir Zawahri, 55, and brother Christopher Zawahri, 24, were remembered at a separate memorial service Sunday near the Zawahri’s fire-damaged home.

An unidentified woman was also killed in the rampage, however, her name has not yet been released.

Santa Monica College planned to hold a vigil for all of the victims on Monday, June 10, at 6 p.m. in front of the SMC Library on the main campus.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KTLA) — Marcela Franco, a 26-year-old who had registered to attend classes at Santa Monica College died Sunday, according to officials at SMC.

“I am saddened to report that Marcela Franco passed away this morning at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center,” Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang said in a statement posted on the school’s website.

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The Franco family poses together (Facebook)

“Her family was with her by her side. Marcela had registered to attend classes this summer at SMC and was with her father Carlos when Friday’s tragedy struck.”

“Our deepest sympathies go to the Franco family. At the appropriate time, the college will convene a campus-wide memorial. We will provide details going forward.”

Marcela’s death makes her the fifth victim to die in the shooting rampage.

Her 68-year-old father Carlos Franco, a groundskeeper at the college, was also killed.

They were driving to the school when a gunman opened fire on them during a rampage on Friday that left three others dead.

A memorial fund in Carlos Franco’s name was set up by the SMC Foundation. For more information on the fund, click here.

The gunman, John Zawahri, 23, was later killed by police during a confrontation in the college’s library.

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