More Details of Santa Monica College Shooting Suspect Revealed
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Authorities say John Zawahri, 23, is the man responsible for the string of shootings that culminated in a shootout with police at Santa Monica College (SMC) on Friday.
The shooting spree began at his father’s house in a residential neighborhood, where he shot and killed his father and older brother, reports CBS News.
The suspect then set the home on fire. Zawahri, who was wearing all black, then went outside and shot a woman who was driving by. He then carjacked another vehicle, ordering the female driver to drive to SMC as he rode in the passenger seat, shooting at others on the street, including a crowded bus.
Zawahri went on to shoot and kill Carlos Navarro Franco, 68, and his daughter, who were both riding in a Ford Explorer. Franco was a groundskeeper at SMC. He was taking his daughter Marcela to buy books for summer school.
The gunman then abandoned the car he was riding in and set off on foot on the SMC campus, shooting randomly. Margarita Gomez, 68, who was standing outside of the library was struck and killed by one of the bullets fired by Zawahri. By then, police were in pursuit.
SMC Police and Santa Monica Police officers then exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who then was killed.
While all of this was happening, SMC students, staff and faculty were sheltering in place on the campus or evacuating. All K-12 schools in Santa Monica were also put on lockdown.
During the rampage, Zawahri carried more than 1,300 rounds of ammunition. Authorities also recovered a AR-15 rifle, single-shot cowboy revolver, and upper receiver. He was wearing a non-load bearing vest and knee pads, reports the Los Angeles Daily News.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the suspect had shown an interest in assault weapons as early as 2006 when he was attending an alternative high school. A teacher told the news source that Zawahri would ditch class and search the Internet for assault weapons. He also made threats to students, teachers and campus police officers at his high school, reports Fox News. Additionally, a search of his home seven years ago uncovered bomb-making materials.
All of this prompted the suspect to be admitted to UCLA’s psychiatric ward for an evaluation.
Authorities are saying that although Zahwahri had behavioral health issues, there was no indication he had “subscribed to any extremist ideologies,” reports NBC News.
Five people plus the gunman died as a result of Friday’s shootings. It is still not clear why Zahwahri asked to be taken to SMC. He and a family member had been enrolled there as recently as 2010, reports CNN.
Students returned to campus Tuesday. SMC will offer counseling to members of the community who have been affected.
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