This undated photo provided on Sunday, June 9, 2013, by the Santa Monica Police Department shows John Zawahri, 23, who police have identified as the shooter in Friday’s deadly rampage at Santa Monica College. The suspect was shot and killed by authorities Friday after a violent spree that claimed the lives of five people and wounded several others. (AP Photo/Santa Monica Police Department)
A weeping woman is comforted after being escorted off campus as Police swarm Santa Monica City College. AP/Robert Gauthier
Authorities on Friday June 14, said the gunman responsible for the violent rampage in Santa Monica that left five people dead, including his father and brother, used a weapon made of parts he purchased separately after his attempts to purchase a gun were denied. Santa Monica Police Department Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said investigators now know John Zawahri owned “an array of realistic-looking replica firearms and several zip guns capable of firing live ammunition,” along with an antique black powder firearm converted to a revolver capable of firing .45 ammunition. Zawahri attempted to purchase a firearm in 2011, Seabrooks said, but was denied by the Department of Justice. He then went on to purchase gun components from various sources across the nation and built a semi-automatic rifle. He also purchased ammunition and magazines carrying 30 rounds each, Seabrooks said. Officials do not know whether the weapons or weapon components were purchased over the Internet, and while the suspect’s replicas and gun components were legal, the zip guns and weapon Zawahri ultimately produced were illegal, Seabrooks said. Investigators were still working to determine what triggered the rampage. Court records showed that Zawahri’s parents went through a bitter split in the late 1990s that included a request by his mother, 54-year-old Randa Abdou, for a restraining order against his father.
Seabrooks said officials now know Zawahri led a troubled life and experienced mental health challenges that likely played a role in his decisions to fatally shoot his father and brother then set fire to the family home before going on a 13-minute shooting spree. Investigators know religious fundamentalism was not a motivating factor in these killings, Seabrooks said. Zawahri left behind a “farewell note,” Seabrooks said, in which he said he hoped his mother would be taken care of financially — and possibly benefit from his father’s estate — he also said goodbye to friends and expressed remorse for killing his father and brother, but no motive was mentioned in the note.
Zawahri, who would have turned 24 Saturday June 15, was shot and killed by police in the Santa Monica College library Friday June 7 after a killing spree that began about a mile away when fire broke out at a home near Yorkshire and Kansas avenues, and two bodies were found inside. Zawahri then carjacked a vehicle, whose driver told the Los Angeles Times that he ordered her to drive him to SMC. He made her stop at various points on the way, where he fired randomly at people and vehicles, including a Santa Monica Big Blue Bus.
Victims of the violence were identified as the gunman’s father, Samir Zawahri, 55; his brother, Christopher Zawahri, 24 — who were found inside the burning home; Marcela Dia Franco, 26, who died Sunday; her father, Carlos Franco, 68; and Margarita Gomez, 68, who was seen regularly on campus collecting recyclables from trash cans.