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Santa Monica shooting premeditated, police say

This surveillance camera frame grab shows a heavily armed man entering Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, Calif., on Friday. (Associated Press)
This surveillance camera frame grab shows a heavily armed man entering Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, Calif., on Friday. (Associated Press)

Gunman armed with 1,300 ammo rounds

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – The shooting rampage that left five people dead in Santa Monica on Friday was premeditated, and the gunman had more than 1,300 rounds of ammunition with him during the attack, police said Saturday.

The shootings, which left four victims and the shooter dead, took place on a number of typically quiet streets in Santa Monica around noon and ended on the campus of Santa Monica College.

“Any time someone puts on a vest of some sort, comes out with a bag full of loaded magazines, has an extra receiver, has a handgun and has a semiautomatic rifle, carjacks folks, goes to a college, kills more people and has to be killed at the hands of police,” Santa Monica police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said, “I believe that’s premeditated.”

The gunman was connected to Santa Monica College as recently as 2010, police said. He died of multiple gunshot wounds after three police officers confronted him near the campus library.

Law enforcement sources in Washington and Los Angeles identified the shooting suspect as John Zawahri, who was in his 20s. Other law enforcement sources said the suspect had some mental problems in the past and was angry over his parents’ divorce.

At 11:52 a.m. Friday, residents of a quiet neighborhood near Interstate 10 reported hearing gunshots. Eyewitnesses saw a man in all black, wearing an ammunition belt and holding a semiautomatic rifle, who stood outside a home engulfed in flames. The gunman had a “familial connection” to the house, police said.

Firefighters later found the bodies of two men inside the home. Police sources said the bodies were those of Samir Zawahri, 55, the owner of the house and Zawahri’s father, and one of his adult sons.

Santa Monica police said they had dealt with the suspect in 2006 but the specifics of the case could not be discussed because the suspect was a juvenile at the time.

The gunman accosted the driver of a Mazda hatchback, got in the car and told her to drive him to Santa Monica College, the driver said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. The gunman fired several rounds at random into the neighborhood with the semiautomatic rifle, witnesses said.

At a parking lot at 20th and Pearl streets, the suspect fired at a red Ford Explorer, hitting driver Carlos Franco, who died at the scene. Franco was a Santa Monica College employee.

The passenger of the Ford Explorer has “a very grim prognosis,” Seabrooks said.

Campus police intercepted the gunman on the edge of campus and exchanged gunfire with him, authorities said. They continued to trade shots as the man ran toward the school’s library and shot a woman outside the building’s entrance before disappearing inside.

The woman outside the library later died at a hospital.

Three police officers “neutralized” the shooter, Seabrooks said. He died of multiple gunshot wounds. During the rampage, five people were wounded, two seriously.


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