June 10, 2013 in Nation/World

Fifth victim in California rampage dies

Police ID gunman; motive still unknown
Tami Abdollah Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Debra Fine is seen here Sunday with her husband, Russell Fine, after being released from the hospital.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – A woman who was critically wounded in the Santa Monica shooting spree died Sunday, bringing the total number of victims killed by the gunman to five.

Marcela Franco, 26, died of her injuries at UCLA Medical Center, according to Santa Monica College spokeswoman Tricia Ramos.

Franco had been a passenger in a Ford Explorer driven by her father, campus groundskeeper Carlos Navarro Franco, 68, who also was killed in Friday’s attack. They were going to the school to buy textbooks for classes the young woman was enrolled in for the summer, President Chui L. Tsang said in a statement.

Police Sgt. Richard Lewis confirmed the suspect’s identity Sunday as John Zawahri. Meanwhile, investigators trying to determine why he planned the shooting spree focused on a deadly act of domestic violence that touched off the mayhem.

The heavily armed man’s attack against his father and older brother at their home led to the violence in Santa Monica streets, lasting just a matter of minutes until he was shot to death in a chaotic scene at the college library by police.

Lewis said Zawahri’s name was released Sunday after his mother cut her trip short and came back to the country.

Lewis said she was being interviewed by investigators.

Investigators were looking at family connections to find a motive because the killer’s father and brother were the first victims, an official briefed on the probe who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly told the Associated Press.

The husband of a woman shot during the rampage said a bullet nicked his wife’s ear and she’ll likely have to live with shrapnel in her shoulder. Debra Lynn Fine, 50, was released in good condition late Saturday from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, according to a hospital statement.

Bullets missed his wife’s vital organs by inches, Russell Fine told the AP Sunday.

What she remembered most about the man who fired at her were his eyes: hard, cold and intense.

There was “no hesitation, no flick of a muscle, nothing. Just absolutely staring and going onto the next step,” Debra Fine recalled. “I just simply got in his way. And he needed to kill me. That was it.”

The killer, who died a day shy of his 24th birthday, was connected to the home that went up in flames after the first shootings, said police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks. His father, identified as 55-year-old Samir Zawahri, and 24-year-old brother, Christopher, lived in the house.

SWAT team officers searched the mother’s Los Angeles apartment and officers interviewed neighbors about the son who lived with her, said Beverly Meadows, who lives in the adjoining unit.

Public records show that Meadows’ neighbor is Randa Abdou, 54, the ex-wife of Samir Zawahri and former co-owner of the house where the first shooting took place.

Lewis said a small cache of ammunition was found in a room of the burned down house.

The elder Zawahri brought his family to the neighborhood of small homes and apartment buildings tucked up against Interstate 10 in the mid-1990s, according to property records.

Soon after, the couple went through a difficult divorce and split custody of their two boys, said Thomas O’Rourke, a neighbor.

When the sons got older, one went to live with his mother while the other stayed with the father.

Standing next to the weapons and ammo found at multiple crime scenes, Seabrooks said at a Saturday news conference that the “cowardly murderer” planned the attack and was capable of firing 1,300 rounds.

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