Santa Monica Rampage That Claimed 4 Lives May Have Started As A Bitter Family Dispute [UPDATED]
Law enforcement sources say that the gunman who went on a shooting spree Friday afternoon that took the lives of four victims in Santa Monica first took aim at his father and brother.
The gunman was later killed by police in a shootout on the Santa Monica College campus. FBI and local authorities are still trying to figure out the motive for the gunman's violent rampage, but they say that it may have started out as a domestic dispute, according to the Los Angeles Times. They stressed that the investigation is still in its early stages, however.
The gunman's killing spree began at a home at Kansas and Yorkshire avenues around 11:50 a.m. Friday morning. Here is a video from the scene:
The first two victims are believed to be the gunman's father and brother. Neighbors told Fox 11 News (via LA Weekly) that the parents were undergoing a contentious divorce.
The father, the brother and the gunman himself have not been identified. A photo believed to depict the gunman's body circulated, and he was described as a white male about 25 to 30 years old who was dressed in all black and carried an AR-15, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. Records show that the owner of the home is Samir Zawahri, 55, but coroner's officials would not confirm for the paper whether he was one of the victims.
Law enforcement initially suspected that the gunman had help but they now believe that he acted alone. The "person of interest" who was detained earlier has been questioned and released, according to the Los Angeles Times.
So far only one victim's name has been released. Carlos Navarro Franco, 68, of West Los Angeles was killed in a parking lot at 20th and Pearl Streets while he was in a red Ford Explorer. Franco died at the scene and his passenger was seriously injured.
UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: CNN reports that a few years ago Zawahri had been hospitalized after he talked about harming someone else. It's not clear whether he was committed by his family, the state or voluntarily, law enforcement said. It's not clear when he was released.
UPDATE 1:15 p.m.: The suspect has been identified by law enforcement sources in Washington as John Zawahri, and he would have turned 24 today. These sources told the Los Angeles Times that Zawahri was angry over his parents' divorce and that he had mental health issues as a juvenile. It's not clear, though, exactly what sparked the rampage.
UPDATE 11:30 a.m.: Police sources confirmed with the Los Angeles Times that Samir Zawahri, 55, and his adult son were the first victims in the shooting rampage. Neighbors told the Times that the alleged shooter lived with his mother at an apartment on South Centinela Avenue, which police investigated yesterday. Court records show that Zawahri had recently divorced Randa Abdou, who lived in that apartment building.
Neighbors described the gunman—whose name has not been released—as an angry person who often yelled and cursed. Neighbor Mykel Denis told the Times, "Sounds really travel in the building and he had a very distinct voice. It was very low and loud. He was a very angry person." Denis once threatened to call the police on him after witnessing a fight between the mother and son.
The story also says that police are investigating the gunman's connections to Santa Monica College, because he specifically asked one of his carjacking victims to take him to the campus.