Santa Monica shooting: John Zawahri ID'd as shooter; Marcela Franco, CSU Dominguez Hills student, dies

John Zawahri

Courtesy Santa Monica Police Dept.

23-year-old John Zawahri is the suspected shooter in an attack that left 5 dead and several others injured Friday in Santa Monica.

SMC Shooting

Brian Watt/KPCC

Video still image shows the suspect entering the Santa Monica Library on June 7, 2013.

Santa Monica Shooting

Brian Watt/KPCC

Weapons collected as evidence after a shooting spree in Santa Monica and displayed at a press conference on Saturday, June 8, 2013.

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Santa Monica College student Audra Bell was in the library when the shooter entered and opened fire. "[Police] had us crawl on the ground," she said. "There was a body on my right hand side, and the glass of the library doors was all broken and it looked like it had been shot, and then there was blood everywhere."

Santa Monica Shooting

Grant Slater/KPCC

A student waits on the periphery of the Santa Monica College campus on Friday afternoon.

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Richard Lewis of the Santa Monica Police Department speaks to the media during a press conference.

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

A Sheriff's deputy walks down 17th Street on Friday hours after a series of shootings throughout the city ended at Santa Monica College.

Santa Monica City College

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Police and firefighters stand near a house in Santa Monica where two men were found dead on June 7th, 2013.

Santa Monica Shooting

Grant Slater/KPCC

A blood-soaked airbag and bullet-riddled windows in a red SUV near the Santa Monica College library.

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

A police officer walks down 17th Street with helmets.


Update 7:12 p.m.: Shooting victim describes the early moments of rampage

Debra Fine was released from UCLA Medical Center last night. Today, she's recovering at her home. 

Fine witnessed the the shooter thought to be John Zawahri as he motioned a woman in front of her to pull over. Thinking that he was an officer assisting with President Obama's motorcade, Fine was initially not concerned. But when she saw the man aim his gun at the passenger, she yelled at him to stop. 

Fine spoke with KPCC's Brian Watt about her experience. You can read the full story here, or listen to a snippet of her harrowing account below: 

Update 3:50 p.m.: Shooting suspect identified

Santa Monica police have officially identified the suspected shooter in the attack on and around campus that left five people dead and several others injured Friday. 

Sergeant Richard Lewis says 23-year-old John Zawahri was behind the premeditated attack. Zawahri had been a student at Santa Monica College in 2010. He would have turned 24 years old on Saturday, according to police. 

Police also identified Zawahri's father, 55 year-old Samir Zawahri, and older brother, 24 year-old Christopher Zawahri, as two of the victims.

Sgt. Lewis confirmed their bodies were discovered in the ruins of their burned-down home near the scene of the first shooting.

A friend of the Zawahri family said John Zawahri stayed inside much of the time. In an interview with KPCC, Tom O'Rourke said he remembered speaking with Chris about his brother.

"Now I did ride on the city bus, Big Blue, with one of the sons, Chris, back in February," he said. "We were coming from Westchester, just randomly happened to ride together. so we sat together, and you know, discussed things..."

"I said I haven't seen your younger brother [...] He said he stays in the house most of the time. He doesn't come out. So, maybe there's some issues there, you know."

Also on Sunday, family members of two of John Zawahri's victims - Marcela and Carlos Franco -- say they'll hold a news conference in front of the family's home at 7 p.m.

Update 1:30 p.m.: SMC commencement ceremony to include memorial service

Tuesday's planned commencement ceremony will incorporate a memorial service to the victims of Friday's attacks, according to school officials.

At an impromptu press conference Sunday, campus police chief Albert Vasquez told City News Service the school is "putting details together" about the service, which had been scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Corsair Field, not far from where the shootings took place. 

Flowers and a note stand next to the door to Carlos Franco's apartment Sunday morning. Franco and his daughter Marcela were killed when a gunman went on a spree around Santa Monica College on Friday, June 7, 2013.

Meanwhile Sunday, Ramona Franco, the wife of slain SMC employee Carlos Navarro Franco and mother of Marcela returned to their West L.A. apartment to find two vases of flowers at the door.  

She told KPCC's Brian Watt that the events of the last several days have been too difficult for her to feel comfortable to speak to the press.

Update 12:24 p.m.: Last shooting victim returned home from UCLA Medical Center

UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center says that the last of the victims it received after the shooting at Santa Monica College has returned home in good condition. 

In a statement on their website, the center says Debra Fine returned home Saturday evening. 

Update Sunday 11:40 a.m.: SMC to resume classes Monday; Offers instructions to students

Students leave Santa Monica College after picking up personal belongings that had to abandon when a gunman on a mass shooting spree entered the campus, on June 8, 2013.

Santa Monica College has issued a statement to their shaken community on the resumption of classes, and how to collect belongings that were left strewn about the courtyard and classrooms after a gunman sent the campus into panic on Friday afternoon. 

The college will be open again Monday at 7 a.m., and year-end finals will resume as scheduled. The college's website says students can return to campus to collect their belongings, which will be held outside the classrooms where they were left between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday.

Students who left items in the campus library should go to 1510 Pico Blvd. to collect their belongings. 

All students should bring an ID and come in person. Friends won't be able to collect belongings that aren't their own. 

In addition, the college is providing counselors for individual or group counseling throughout the day Sunday at the Bundy Campus, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

CSU Dominguez Hills, where Marcela Franco attended school, will also provide counseling at their campus, campus President Willie J. Hagan said in a statement on the school's Facebook page

Update Sunday, 10:25 a.m.: Marcela Franco, CSU Dominguez Hills student, dies

Twenty-six year-old Marcela Franco, a student at CSU Dominguez Hills, who was shot on her way to buy books with her father has died at UCLA Medical Center. A statement issued by Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang announced her death and said the college would hold a memorial in her honor at a later date. 

I am saddened to report that Marcela Franco passed away this morning at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Her family was with her by her side. Marcela had registered to attend classes this summer at SMC and was with her father Carlos when Friday’s tragedy struck.

Our deepest sympathies go to the Franco family. At the appropriate time, the College will convene a campus-wide memorial. We will provide details going forward.

Franco's father Carlos Franco was also shot and killed by a gunman Friday. He was a longtime groundskeeper on campus.

Marcela was the family's youngest daughter. The Franco family has told KPCC that she had vowed to complete college in memory of her brother, Juan Carlos Franco, who was killed in a car crash two years ago. 

The school has established a memorial fund for the family.

Update 7:00 p.m. Saturday: Owners of burned Yorkshire Ave. home identified. Marcela Franco still in critical condition

Police are waiting until next of kin are notified to release the names of the rest of the victims and the suspect in the Santa Monica College shooting, but new details are emerging. 

Property records show that as of last December, Samir Zawahri and Randa Abdou jointly owned the home on Yorkshire Avenue, which was burned down on Friday. Neighbors of both Zawahri and Abdou tell KPCC that the pair is divorced and have two grown sons named Chris and John. Neighbors say that Chris lives with Abdou in an apartment on Centinela Avenue and John lives with Zawahri. 

The home on Yorkshire was found to contain two bodies, which have not been identified. 

Abdou's next door neighbor, Beverly Meadows, 62, told KPCC's Erika Aguilar that Abdou was going to visit family overseas, that she left on May 20, and was expected to return in about a month.

Meadows describes Adbou as a short, petite woman. "She's a lovely person, with a lovely personality. You're always glad to see her," Meadows said. 

Meadows said Abdou didn't talk about her family much, but that she had said she was divorced from her husband. She added that she would often hear Chris howling and screaming in the apartment or playing loud "head banger" music.

Tom O'Rourke, a neighbor who lives on Yorkshire Avenue, referred to Samir as "Sam" and said that he does the books for a construction company. He told KPCC's Brian Watt that Zawahri is a "hard working guy" who works "all the time."  He says Zawahri goes to work at 6 o'clock every morning and comes home at 7 or 8 every night, often working weekends. 

The only victim who has been identified, Carlos Navarro Franco, 68, was a groundskeeper at Santa Monica College. An official statement from SMC president Chui L. Tsang said that Franco and his daughter, Marcela Franco, 26, a student at CSU Dominguez Hills, were on campus so she could purchase books for summer classes. Marcela was critically injured in the shooting and is currently in intensive care following surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.  

At the Franco family home, a woman who only gave her name as Angie and identified herself as Marcela's cousin told KPCC's Erika Aguilar that Marcela was studying psychology. She also said that Marcela vowed to finish college in honor of her late brother, Juan Carlos Franco, who was killed in a car accident in 2011. 

Update 1:40 p.m.: New details on identity of shooter

The guman responsible for killing four people and wounding several more in a violent shooting rampage Friday that ended with his death at Santa Monica College was a former student of that school as early as 2010 and would have turned 24 years old on Saturday, according to the latest details from police officials.

RELATED: See a timeline of the Santa Monica College shooting

Police also revealed that the shooter entered the library and attempted to kill several library patrons. Some students  and faculty inside the library at the time avoided injury by barricading themselves inside what is being called a "safe room." Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said it was miraculous that no one in the library was injured.

“It’s my understanding that they were able to see what was going on, they ran into that safe room, as would be appropriate," said Seabrooks. "They stacked items found in the safe room against the door, hunkered down and avoided shots that were fired throught the drywall at them as they were in that room.”

The name of the suspect and those of his victims would not be released until next of kin are notified, and at least one family member was believed to be out of the country, said Seabrooks at a press conference Saturday afternoon.

One victim — the driver of a red Ford Explorer who was shot and killed near 20th and Pearl streets near Santa Monica College — had earlier been identified as SMC employee Carlos Navarro Franco, a 68-year-old resident of West Los Angeles, according to Joyce Kato of the Los Angeles County Coroner's office. A female passenger in Franco's car was wounded in the shooting and was in critical condition after undergoing surgery at a UCLA hospital.

Seven people were sent to hospitals in Westwood and Santa Monica on Friday. One patient initially listed in serious condition is now listed in good condition. A third patient at that location has died. Four victims who were sent to UCLA Medical Center's Santa Monica campus have been treated and released.

Police had been to the suspect's residence on Yorkshire Avenue in 2006, but they could not share details of the event because he was a juvenile at the time, Seabrook said. 

It was believed that the suspect had family ties both to the Yorkshire Avenue address and another residence in the Palms neighborhood.

The shooter was carrying a .223 semiautomatic rifle similar to the AR-15 used in other high-profile mass shootings in recent years. He was also wearing an all-black ballistic vest without the armor plates inserted and carrying a bag with a handgun and enough spare magazines to store 1,300 rounds.

"If all the magazines that we collected were fully loaded, approximately 1,300 rounds could have been fired had there not been an interdiction and the person neutralized," Seabrooks said.

It was still unclear how many shots were actually fired.

The presence of President Barack Obama in the vicinity on Friday may have helped police respond to the shootings even faster than usual. Obama was in town for a fundraising visit.

"The benefit of Obama's visit is that we had a lot of resources available to us for a ready response," Seabrooks said, noting that Santa Monica and SMC police have trained repeatedly for these kinds of incidents.

Earlier: 

Police are trying to determine why a suspected gunman went on a shooting spree in Santa Monica, killing at least four people and wounding several more before being gunned down himself at the Santa Monica College library.

Santa Monica Police displayed evidence — including several boxes of 20 rifle cartridges, knee pads, a black bag with several rifle magazine, a plastic bag containing a pistol grip, an assault rifle, a fllipetta (brand) handgun, and 9 more magazines — taken from the incident for reporters ahead of a press conference.

RELATED: Santa Monica shooting: Gunman acted alone in killing 4 before he was shot dead, investigation ongoing (updated)

Police had said earlier that seven people were killed, including the gunman, but they revised the death toll to five at a news conference late Friday. Sgt. Richard Lewis said there were conflicting descriptions of some victims and they were counted twice.

RELATED: See our Storify of the SMC shooting incident

The incident began shortly before noon on Friday at a Santa Monica residence, where shots were reported and a house was on fire. As the house burst into flames, the man, wearing what appeared to be a ballistic jacket, carjacked a woman at gunpoint and directed her to drive to the college campus, having her stop so he could shoot along the way, police said.

A second man was questioned and released in connection with the shootings, but he is not a suspect, Lewis said at a news conference Friday night.

Nine crime scenes were under investigation by officers from 11 different law enforcement agencies, Lewis said.

On the gunman they found a canvas bag that included a rifle, a handgun and magazines of ammunition, Lewis said. A small cache of ammunition that had burned was found in the house.

Yesterday, police got a radio call to a Mar Vista home that there was a suspect with possible connection to the Santa Monica shooting. They also received a call that someone was down and wounded at Centinela Avenue and Palms Boulevard, though neither of these leads turned out to be true, said Captain Ed Pape of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Pape said that as of late Friday he wasn't sure if the resident at Centinela has any familial relation to the suspect.


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This story has been updated.

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