Police announced Friday they'll charge Scott Dekraai, the lone suspect in the Seal Beach shooting rampage, with eight counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said he'll seek the death penalty if Dekraai is convicted. Dekraai was due to be arraigned Friday, but the arraignment was postponed until late November during an emotionally charged hearing.
The shooting Wednesday claimed eight lives and left another victim critically injured. It was the worst attack in Orange County history. Inside the courtroom on Friday, friends and relatives of the eight people killed jeered at Dekraai, shouting “coward” and “I hate you!”
At Friday's press conference, Rackauckas said that Dekraai entered the salon motivated by revenge, wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying three guns. He shot at his unarmed victims for two minutes straight and even "stopped to reload during the spree and continued gunning people down."
Rackauckas said Dekraai "callously snuffed them out like they were collateral damage.''
Dekraai's defense attorney said in court that his client had not been given anti-psychotic medications in jail that he had been prescribed, and Rackauckas said he expects Dekraai to mount an insanity defense. Dekraai's lawyer asked to postpone the arraignment in order to give his client time to assemble a defense team.
The victims included the salon's owner, Randy Lee Fannin, 62; Victoria Ann Buzzo, 54; Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65; Laura Lee Elody, 46; Christy Lynn Wilson, 47; Michelle Daschbach, 47, David Caouette, 64, and hair stylist Michelle Marie Fournier, 48, Dekraai's ex-wife and the alleged target of the massacre.
Hattie Stretz, 73, is the sole survivor of the attack. She remains in critical condition at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. She is also the mother of one of the victims; Laura Elody.
Fournier and Dekraai had an 8-year-old son, Dominic. Fournier's attorney, John Cate Jr., told the Orange County Register that Dekraai and his ex-wife were in court the day before the shooting. Dekraai had been seeking sole custody of his son, but a court-ordered report recommended against it.
Cate said that Dekraai's "demeanor throughout this case has been controlled and he never gave any indication that he housed the potential for such destruction and carnage. Michelle's son, Dominic, is also a victim, and by one act of a desperate man has been deprived of both a mother and father.''
Court records paint a picture of a man who appeared to be increasingly troubled in recent years.
Dekraai was not allowed to have firearms and had to move out of the home of his stepfather, LeRoy J. Hinmon, in 2007 after the man complained that Dekraai attacked him, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He was also accused of attacking his stepfather in front of his son, who was 4 years old at the time, and was supposed to complete a 52-week batterer intervention program.
In 2007, Dekraai filed court documents complaining of "harassing and threatening'' phone calls from his ex-wife, according to court records cited by The Times.
A Dec. 1, 2008, court order, a copy of which was obtained by City News Service, limited phone conversations between Dekraai and his ex-wife to once a week for 10 minutes, and only on the topic of their child. There was an exception for emergencies.
Fournier was prohibited from drinking alcohol while she had custody of the boy and the day prior to when she picked him up, according to the court records.
Dekraai's former attorney, Don Eisenberg, told CNS that the two had a "typical'' divorce, which was finalized on Dec. 28, 2007.
"This was not a remarkable case. It was a stipulated judgment and the parties agreed on these details,'' Eisenberg said.
Under the shared custody agreement, Dekraai had the boy each week from Thursday through the weekend, and the mother had him Monday through Wednesday, the attorney said.
"It was almost an exactly equal split,'' Eisenberg said. "The reason for that, I believe, was she worked as a hairdresser on weekends and those were her busy times, and it was based on their availability. There's nothing in (Eisenberg's) file that indicates this was a problem divorce.''
Eisenberg only represented Dekraai one more time after the divorce was finalized, and that was on his effort to obtain a passport, the lawyer said.
Dekraai turned to another attorney to represent him in the child custody issues that arose later, Eisenberg said.
KPCC's Stephanie O'Neill contributed reporting.
Correction: This story originally incorrectly stated the day on which the victim's names were released by police.