Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


What We Know So Far About Santa Monica Rampage Suspect John Zawahri

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

More details are emerging about the man suspected of going on a violent spree that began at his father's home and ended a mile away in the library of Santa Monica College where students were studying for finals.

Yesterday police said that a bitter family dispute and mental issues could have motivated John Zawahri's rampage on Friday afternoon in Santa Monica, and now we're learning more details about Zawahri and his family.

Zawahri was the son of Samir Zawahri, 55, and Randa Abdou, 54. Coroner's officials have not confirmed it but media reports suggest that gunman's father and brother Chris Zawahri, 25, were his first victims—their bodies were reportedly found in the smoldering ruins of Samir Zawahri's Santa Monica home.

Property records show Zawahri's parents purchased the home near the 10 freeway in 1996, according to the Associated Press. Abdou filed a petition asking for a restraining order against her husband in 1998 for domestic violence, though the request was never given a court hearing, according to The Los Angeles Daily News. Abdou sold her share of the ownership to her ex-husband as a result of the divorce in 2003. News reports indicate that the parents split up custody of their two boys, but there are conflicting reports about who was living with whom. Abdou moved to an apartment not far from the family home.A neighbor near the Zawahri home Thomas O'Rourke told the AP: "It was not an easy breakup. It was a bitter divorce."

Support for LAist comes from

Abdou's neighbor Beverly Meadow described her this way: "She's a lovely woman. Petite, sweet, quiet, brunet and classy — with a crazy kid."

Another neighbor of his mother's described him as an angry, hostile person who could often be heard yelling through the thin walls of his mother's apartment.

The family was originally from Lebanon, and Abdou is currently on a one-month trip there, according to The Daily News. She was due back sometime next week (and her absence might explain why police have not formally released the names of the Zawahri family members killed).

LA Observed found John Zawahri's junior year photo in the Santa Monica High School 2006 yearbook, but his name didn't show up the next year in the yearbook or the graduation program. Police said that they had contact with the suspected gunman in 2006 at the family's home, though they wouldn't offer details since he was a juvenile at the time. Other reports indicate that at one point he was committed, though it's not clear whether it was voluntary or involuntary. He was enrolled in Santa Monica college in 2010, but there are few details about his tenure there. Police have been taking pains to not call Zawahri's spree a "school shooting" since it ended on campus and did not start there.

A family friend told the Los Angeles Times that the gunman had "a fascination with guns." This source said, "We were all worried about it.... Everyone is wondering where he got the money for the weapons."

Zawahri was armed to the teeth when he left his father's home around noon on Friday. He was carrying an AR-15 style, pistols and clips. Police say he may have had up to 1,300 rounds of ammunition in a gym bag he carried with him to Santa Monica College, and they have no doubt his spree was "pre-meditated."

The Stories Of The Victims Of Deadly Santa Monica Rampage
Santa Monica Rampage That Claimed 4 Lives May Have Started As A Bitter Family Dispute
Santa Monica Shootings: 5 Dead Including Suspected Shooter