Santa Monica Shooting Suspect Identified as John Zawahri
Authorities in California have identified the suspected gunman in Friday’s Santa Monica shooting rampage that left at least four people dead.
KABC reports that John Zawahri, who would have turned 24 on Saturday, has been named as the suspected shooter who went on a deadly rampage through the Los Angeles suburb.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Zawahri, who suffered from mental health problems, was apparently upset by his parents’ divorce.
Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks told reporters on Saturday that Zawahri planned the attack and was “heavily armed and ready for battle.” Among the weapons in his arsenal was an ‘assault’-style rifle and a .44 caliber handgun. He reportedly had more than 1,300 rounds of ammunition.
The rampage began around noon on Friday. Police responded to a report of a shooting in the 2000 block of Yorkshire Avenue. Upon arriving, officers found the house in flames and the bodies of two men, believed to be Zawahri’s father and brother, inside.
Zawahri is then believed to have shot and injured a woman driving by before carjacking another woman at gunpoint and ordering her to drive to Santa Monica Community College (SMCC). On the way there, the suspect fired at numerous vehicles including a city bus, causing minor injuries to three more people.
He then allegedly shot and killed 68-year-old SMCC employee Carlos Navarro Franco. His daughter, Marcela Franco, who is in her 20s, was also shot and seriously wounded. John Sanchez, a stepbrother of the slain man’s wife, told the New York Daily News that doctors at UCLA Medical Center said that Marcela was brain dead.
The suspect then shot and killed a woman in her 50s, who has not yet been identified, outside the SMCC library, before trying to shoot more people inside the building. He then engaged in a gun battle with officers who responded to the scene. Zawahri was killed in the ensuing firefight.
Terrified SMCC students and staff scrambled for their lives as the gunman opened fire in the library. Chief Seabrooks said that students in the building rushed into a ‘safe room’ and barricaded themselves and “hunkered down” as bullets pierced the walls.
Trena Johnson, an administrative assistant working in the dean’s office, said she “saw a woman get shot in the head.”
“I haven’t been able to stop shaking,” Johnson told the Associated Press.
The shooting rampage coincided with a visit by President Barack Obama, who was attending a Democratic fundraiser and whose motorcade was rerouted around the campus area. The shootings are not believed to be related in any way to the president’s visit.
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