[UPDATED with Scott Evans Dekraai Insanity Plea Predicted:] 6 Women and 2 Men, OC Homicides Nos. 45-52: Massacred at Beauty Salon
UPDATE, NOV. 29, 12:30 P.M.: During today's arraignment hearing, where Scott Evans Dekraai pleaded not guilty to murdering eight people and critically injuring a ninth, Deputy Public Defender Scott Sanders objected to press photographers being in the courtroom, saying this kind of media coverage makes it difficult for his client to get a fair trial. Sanders also mentioned that April 24, 2012, is too soon for a scheduled preliminary hearing given he's mounting a death penalty defense. And, likely, one built on Dekraai being nuts.
Watching the proceedings were about 20 family members of people killed in the worst mass murder in Orange County history. Outside court afterward, Butch Fournier, the brother of Dekraai's late ex-wife and presumed main target Michelle Fournier, told assembled reporters that his family is preparing itself for an insanity defense.
"No matter what, for the rest of his life, he'll spend 23 of 24 hours in a cell," said Butch Fournier (via Los Alamitos-Seal Beach Patch). "If he does get the death penalty, I will be there gazing through the glass, I promise you that."
It was also revealed outside court that Chelsea Huff, the adult daughter of Michelle Fournier and another attendee of today's continued arraignment, has custody of Dominic Dekraai, the 8-year-old son of Michelle and Scott. A custody dispute over the boy is alleged to have fueled the former boat captain's rage.
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UPDATE, NOV. 29, 10:23 A.M.: According to police and prosecutors, Scott Evans Dekraai confessed to being the worst mass killer in Orange County history shortly after eight people were shot to death at a Seal Beach hair salon on Oct. 12.
And yet, at his continued arraignment this morning, the Huntington Beach 41-year-old pleaded not guilty to murdering eight people and critically injuring a ninth.
UPDATE, NOV. 28, 9:32 A.M.: The smirk and the rest of Scott Evans Dekraai is scheduled to enter a courtroom Tuesday to enter a plea to being the worst mass killer in Orange County history.
The Huntington Beach 41-year-old is, of course, accused of the cold-blooded murder of eight people at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach on Oct. 12.
Dekraai, who is being held in jail without bail, had been arraigned a few days after the shootings. But his privately retained defense attorneys requested a continuance because they needed more time to prepare for what is now a death penalty case. That law firm later resigned, citing the high cost of mounting defense--death penalty cases are essentially two trials.
On Act. 24, Orange County Superior Court Judge Erick L. Larsh assigned Dekraai's defense to the Orange County Public Defender's office, with senior Deputy Public Defender Scott Sanders getting the call.
- Scott Evans Dekraai, Mass Killer Suspect, is a darling of the Tea Party and Divorced Dads Rights Groups
UPDATE, OCT. 24, 3:05 P.M.: Orange County Superior Court Judge Erick L. Larsh this afternoon assigned the defense of Scott Evans Dekraai to the Orange County Public Defender's office. The lead attorney (at taxpayers' dime) will now be senior Deputy Public Defender Scott Sanders. Dekraai's original defense attorney, Robert Curtis, told Larsh he specializes in family law, having represented the accused in previous divorce and custody proceedings. Curtis, of Jarvis & Krieger of Long Beach, added that Dekraai cannot afford a private law firm for an expensive death-penalty trial.
Telling television news reporters gathered outside the courtroom that he was not surprised "that someone does not want to stand up there and defend this coward," the late Christie Wilson's husband Paul Wilson observed, "What we do need to remember and what is news today is that over the past week we have had to say goodbye to eight very loving people who were mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. That should be the news, not what happened here."
UPDATE, OCT. 24, 12:37 P.M.: Seal Beach hair salon massacre suspect Scott Evans Dekraai has not even had his full court arraignment yet and his defense attorneys already want off the case.
The Jarvis & Krieger firm in Long Beach will ask Judge Erick L. Larsh to find another defenders for the accused worst mass killer in Orange County history at an Orange County Superior Court hearing this afternoon.
The reason for the request is expected to be revealed at that hearing.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons tells Fox 11 News he has not been told why Jarvis & Krieger wants off the case, but he speculates it could be because the firm cannot afford to conduct a death-penalty trial. If a defendant is found guilty in such a trial, a second phase to determine if he or she deserves the ultimate penalty then begins, and it is often as long and expensive in man hours as the guilty phase.
At Dekraai's Oct. 14 arraignment hearing, which at the request of defense attorney Robert Curtis was continued to Nov. 29 so he would have more time to prepare, the lawyer asked Judge Erick L. Larsh to order jail officials to give his client a prescribed anti-psychotic medicine and access to a "spinal cord stimulator" he has needed since his 2007 boat accident. Larsh instead ordered a medical evaluation of Dekraai to see what medicine he might need, leaving it up to the Orange County Sheriff's Department jailers to decide what was appropriate.
Scott Evans Dekraai: laughing all the way to Death Row?
Courtesy of the Orange County District Attorney's Office
UPDATE, OCT. 14, 3:14 P.M.: On Fridays, we like to post the ugliest police mugshot of the week. Seal Beach mass murder suspect Scott Evans Dekraaihas made it real easy. Look at that fucker, laughing into the camera, after [yes, allegedly] taking his 8-year-old son's mother away from him, ensuring that boy will forever live with the stigma of what his father has done [yes, allegedly] and heading for a possible place on California's Death Row. Ugly, ugly, ugly.
Orange County, we have found our Halloween monster.
Was he drunk or under the influence of illegal or prescription meds while he apparently carried out the deadliest shooting in OC history? Nope, says the district attorney, he was clean. His victims and would-be victims cowered in fear, played dead and tried to hide as the gunman methodically walked through the salon and fired his weapons, even stopping once to reload.
Dekraai's arraignment this afternoon was continued to 8:30 a.m. Nov. 29 in Santa Ana. He entered no plea. His attorney Robert Curtis said the jail where he is being held without bail has denied him his anti-psychotic medications Trazadome and Topamax. Judge Erick L. Larsh ordered a medical review to determine what medications Dekraai needs.
Relatives of victims and others at the Santa Ana courtroom yelled "coward" and "I hate you" at Dekraai before and after the proceedings. Curtis indicated he will file a motion seeking a change of venue.
The alleged killer's son is said to be safe with family members. A fund has been set up for victims' families. Visitwww.salonmeritagefund.org
UPDATE, OCT. 14, 11:52 A.M.: Standing alongside Seal Beach's acting Police Chief Tim Olson, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas began this morning's emotional press conference in his Santa Ana office by saying, "Oct. 12, 2011, is a day that should never have been visited on the peaceful community of Seal Beach, California. The people of our community were made victims of a bloody massacre by a methodical and merciless killer." He would go on to disclose he will seek the death penalty for Scott Evans Dekraai.
Rackauckas called the violence "senseless" and accused Dekraai of forever changing the lives of the victims' families. "They will forever be left with a missing place in their hearts," he said, "and a missing chair at their Thanksgiving tables."
The DA then announced he was filing eight felony counts of special circumstances murder and one count of attempted murder against Dekraai, who is being held without bail at Orange County Jail and is expected to be arraigned this afternoon.
Saying his office is still investigating, Rackauckas said he believes that the evidence will ultimately show Dekraai just after 1:20 p.m. Wednesday walked into Salon Meritage "prepared to commit murder." He was packing three firearms--which Olson later identified as a Springfield 9mm, a Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum, and and H&K .45-caliber handgun--when he walked through the salon "shooting anyone close enough to hit," Rackauckas said.
"He stopped to reload during his spree," the DA added.
He accused Dekraai of not being satisfied with killing his intended target, his ex-wife Michelle Fournier, spending two minutes "executing" people in the salon by shooting them in the heads and chests. Rackauckas added the killer was not done, shooting Dave Caouette sitting in his SUV in the parking lot for reasons unknown.
Rackauckas said the motive was "revenge."
"Clearly, this two-minute murder spree could not have been about loving his son," Rackuckas said. "Eight irreplaceable lives were callously snuffed out like collateral damage. We will not forget any one of these people. Their lives mattered. We will seek justice to the best of our ability."
He then ran down each victim's name and age. The DA had trouble keeping his composure as he talked about Dekraai and Fournier's 8-year-old son (originally reported as age 7). At the time of the senseless shooting, "the son he professed to love was sitting in the principal's office . . . waiting for his mom or dad to pick him up," Rackauckas said, choking up. "That little boy is a victim. . . . Now his mother has been murdered, and he has to grow up knowing his dad is a mass murderer. So what kind of sick and twisted fatherly love might that be."
The DA then explained his usual method of convening a committee in special-circumstances murder cases so that he and veteran prosecutors can decide appropriate punishment, up to and including the death penalty.
"Some cases are so depraved, so callous and so malignant that that there's only one punishment that might fit the crime," Rackauckas said in explainging why there is no need to convene a panel in this case. "I will of course seek the death penalty."
Olson, who frequently referred to Dekraai as a "coward," disclosed his department had contact with the suspect over the past two months, including an alleged violation of his visitation agreement.
Taking questions from the reporters, Rackauckas also cleared up reports about whether Fournier had recently taken out a restraining order against Dekraai, saying his office has seen no such information. There was an attempt to take out such an order in 2007, the DA said, but the process was not completed.
The OCDA statement on the charges follows:
October 14, 2011
Case # 11CF2781
DISTRICT ATTORNEY TO SEEK DEATH PENALTY AGAINST SEAL BEACH SALON SHOOTER FOR LARGEST MASS MURDER IN ORANGE COUNTY HISTORY
SANTA ANA - The Orange County District Attorney announced today that he will seek the death penalty against a man charged with committing the largest mass-murder in Orange County history. The Seal Beach Police Department (SBPD) investigated this case.
Scott Evans Dekraai, 41, Huntington Beach, is charged with eight felony counts of special circumstances murder for committing multiple murders and one felony count of attempted murder. He is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned today, Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, at 1:30 p.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
"There are some crimes that are so depraved, so callous, so malignant, that there is only one punishment that will fit the crime. When a person, in a case such as this, goes on a rampage and kills innocent people in an indiscriminate bloody massacre, I will seek the death penalty," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. "The circumstances of this case are so terrible and incomprehensible that the aggravating factors overwhelm any possible mitigation."
"The murders that occurred on October 12 are by far the most horrific tragedy in our city's history. This incident will forever impact the lives of so many of us, who live, work and visit our great community," said Seal Beach Acting Chief of Police Tim Olson. "I am proud of the swift and effective action of the men and women of the Seal Beach Police Department as well as the assistance we received from so many of our law enforcement partners, for which we are grateful."
Death Penalty Decision
In the majority of special circumstances murder cases, the District Attorney convenes a special circumstances committee consisting of the District Attorney, the Senior Assistant and Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Homicide Unit, and other prosecutors experienced in capital cases after an indictment or preliminary hearing. The committee discusses the defendant's record, the nature of the crime, and the vulnerability of the victim, among other factors. The committee also considers mitigating circumstances from the defense attorney. The final decision to pursue the death penalty rests on the District Attorney.
In certain extreme cases, such as mass murders, the District Attorney may decide to seek the death penalty without the necessity of a special circumstances committee. The aggravating circumstances in these cases far outweigh any possible mitigating circumstances.
Based on the violent and indiscriminate nature of this crime, the District Attorney determined that the committee was unnecessary in his decision to seek the death penalty.
Circumstances of the Crime
On the morning of Oct. 12, 2011, Dekraai is accused of getting into a verbal argument on the phone with his ex-wife, 48-year-old Michelle Marie Fournier, over a custody dispute regarding their 8-year-old son.
At approximately 1:20 p.m. on Oct. 12, 2011, Dekraai is accused of entering Salon Meritage, located on the 500 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Seal Beach, where his ex-wife worked as a hair stylist. The defendant is accused of wearing a bullet-proof vest under his clothing and arming himself with three firearms before walking into the salon with the intention of murdering his ex-wife and other people who may have been present. Approximately 15 people were inside at the time.
At 1:21 p.m. Dekraai is accused of walking through the salon and executing employees and customers at random, as well as Fournier, by shooting them at close range in the head and chest. The firearms included a 9 MM Springfield, Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum, and a Heckler & Koch .45.
He is accused of shooting several of the victims multiple times using two of the firearms as they lay dying, stopping to reload when his ammunition ran out. The shooting lasted approximately two minutes.
The other people inside the salon attempted to escape by hiding, locking themselves in private treatment rooms, or running outside. Dekraai is accused of shooting eight people inside the salon.
Six of the eight victims inside the salon were pronounced dead at the scene. The two other victims were transported to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in critical condition. One of those victims died that afternoon at the hospital. The eighth victim remains in critical condition.
The seven murdered victims from inside the salon include (in alphabetical order): Victoria Ann Buzzo, 54, Laguna Beach, salon employee; Laura Lee Elody, 46, Huntington Beach, salon employee; Randy Lee Fannin, 62, Murrieta, salon owner; Michele Daschbach Fast, 47, Seal Beach, salon client; Michelle Marie Fournier, 48, Los Alamitos, salon employee; Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65, Huntington Beach, salon client; and Christy Lynn Wilson, 47, Lakewood, salon employee.
Victim Harriet Stretz, 73, Los Alamitos, is in critical condition. She was a salon client having her hair done by her daughter, victim Elody.
After his murderous shooting rampage inside the salon, Dekraai is accused of walking out of the salon. As he approached his white Toyota Tundra pick-up truck to flee the scene, the defendant is accused of observing a dark sport utility vehicle parked nearby with a male seated in the driver's seat. Dekraai is accused of approaching the victim, who was alone in his car, and executing him by shooting him in the head through the closed front passenger side window.
This victim was David Caouette, 64, Seal Beach.
An SBPD officer, who was nearby in the neighborhood, was the first to arrive at the scene in response to a 911 call from a person in the restaurant next door to the salon. Witnesses pointed the officer to the defendant's vehicle as Dekraai attempted to drive away.
SBPD dispatch received information from the 911 caller at 1:25:36 p.m. that the defendant was driving away from the scene. At 1:26:07 p.m., only 30 seconds later, the defendant was stopped by SBPD in an emergency traffic stop.
Officers from SBPD yelled for the defendant to exit his vehicle with their guns drawn. Dekraai is accused of getting out of his car, getting down on his knees, placing his hands behind his head, and was arrested. At the time of his arrest, Dekraai is accused of being in possession of the three firearms and a significant amount of ammunition in his truck.
Dekraai was booked at the Seal Beach City Jail and was later transported to the Orange County Jail.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Randy Litwin at
Randy Lee Fannin, 62, the owner of Salon Meritage. His wife Sandy Fannin was at the shop at the time of the tragedy, but she was not shot. They split time between homes in Murrieta and Laguna Beach. The station where he specialized in Brazilian blowouts was near the entrance.
Michelle Marie Fournier, 48, of Garden Grove, was the presumed targeted of her ex-husband Scott Evans Dekraai, who is being held for the worst mass shooting in Orange County history. Fournier was a stylist at the salon. She leaves two grown children from her marriage to her first husband, Steve Huff, and a 7-year-old boy who was the center of her custody battle with Dekraai.
Michele Daschbach Fast, 47, of Seal Beach, was a client of the salon and known in the community for being the wife of the team manager of the Beach Futbol Club Girls 95 White Team, Patrick Fast, and mother of one of the players. She leaves behind three children.
Laura Lee Webb, 46, of Huntington Beach, was identified with the last name Elody by police, but she'd recently married and changed it to Webb. The salon stylist was doing her mother's hair at the time of the shooting. Her mother, Harriet "Hattie" Stretz, 73, of Los Alamitos, was the only shooting victim to survive. She remains in critical condition at Long Beach Memorial Hospital but is said to be improving.
David Caouette, 64, of Seal Beach, is the name provided by police but other spell his last name "Caoulette." by some. He was shot while sitting in his Land Rover Discovery outside the salon and later died at Long Beach Memorial. Married and the father of three grown children, he left his salesman job at Land Rover Mission Viejo years ago but was still tight with people there. He's being fondly remembered by his fellow Southern California Land Rover Club members also.
Christy Lynn Wilson, 47, was a nail specialist at the salon. The married mother of three was close with Fournier. In fact, she testified at Tuesday's custody hearing on her friend's behalf, and some have speculated that Dekraai had also targeted her.
Victoria Buzzo, 54, of Seal Beach, worked at the salon. She leaves behind a husband and two sons. Her father had recently passed away, making this especially difficult on her mother.
Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65, of Huntington Beach. She was a salon client killed during the shooting.
If you knew any of the victims and would like to add remembrances or other details, email email@example.com.
UPDATE, OCT. 13, 4:22 P.M.: Based on information from friends, family members and colleagues, the Orange County Register is reporting the same names we've carried as victims of the senseless Seal Beach murders plus one more who was inside Salon Meritage on PCH:Victoria Buzzo. The name of only one more murder victim has yet to be revealed.
Authorities have not confirmed any names that have been reported, asking the media to await tomorrow morning's press conference at the district attorney's office.
But some sharing these names are openly critical of that stance, saying friends and community members need to be informed who was killed so the mourning process can begin and tight-knit Seal Beach can begin to heal from the worst mass shooting in Orange County history.
In addition to Buzzo, the deceased are Dave Caouette, Michele Fast, Laura Webb, Michelle Fournier(the ex-wife of suspected killer Scott Evan Dekraai), salon owner Randy Fannin and Christy Wilson.
Webb's mother, Hattie Stretz, is recovering at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.
The Register also picked up something a Long Beach news site reported earlier: that Dekraai's stepfather got a temporary restraining order in 2007 after alleging Dekraai attacked him, leaving him with cuts and bruises on his face and right arm.
Dekraai's 7-year-old son is said to have witnessed the attack. Fournier claimed in court papers tied to their custody battle for the boy that DeKraai twice called 9-1-1 claiming he was going to commit suicide, once with his son in his arms.
UPDATE, OCT. 13, 3:15 P.M.: Police and prosecutors say they will not confirm the names of any mass killing victims until tomorrow morning's press conference, but the Southern California Land Rover Club website is paying memorial tribute to member Dave Caouette. He is identified as the Land Rover driver who was shot outside Salon Meritage in Seal Beach Wednesday afternoon and later died at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. The vehicle had Oregon plates, but Caouette apparently had a home in Seal Beach.
"May we all say a prayer for him!" reads the post that is titled "We Lost a Friend" and is followed by thoughtful comments from others. "He was one of our team members at Jaguar Land Rover Mission Viejo and continued to lead the off road events... Many of you know that Rich, Darrin, Dave and I spent many years introducing and instructing new owners to our products. "
It is unclear why Caouette was in that parking lot, but there are many restaurants near the salon he could have been visiting.
The Beach Futbol Club website identifies Michele Fast, who was among those friends and family earlier claimed was also killed, as the wife of a team manager Patrick Fast and the mother of their daughter, a player on the team.
"It is with great sadness that we write to let you know that one of the victims in the senseless Seal Beach tragedy was Michelle Fast . . .", begins the tribute signed by Mauricio Ingrassia, club director, and Chris Reist, interim president. ". . . Please keep the Fast family in your prayers."
The clubs plan to turn out for tonight's candlelight vigil at 8 in front of the salon: "Beach FC players are invited to join the Girls 95 White team in wearing their gold practice jerseys as a show of solidartiy, love and support for the Fast family."
Many media sites claim the daughter of Hattie Stretz, the 73-year-old shooting victim from Los Alamitos now recovering at the Long Beach hospital, was murder victim Laura Webb. Stretz apparently went to the salon to meet with her daughter.
Others who survived the shooting without getting hit reportedly "played dead" on the salon floor until the gunman fled.
UPDATE, OCT. 13, 2:35 P.M.: Based on court documents filed in the divorce and custody case involving suspected mass killer Scott Dekraaiand his ex-wife and one of eight fatal victims Michelle Fournier (who has also had Dekraai and Huff as last names), the couple married in 2003 and their union dissolved in 2006.
In 2007, Foss Maritime captain Dekraai suffered an accident aboard his tugboat that crushed his legs and took a female shipmate's life. This left him permanently disabled and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. He underwent several surgeries and took many medications in unsuccessful attempts to revive his "dead legs." Some claim he was never the same after this.
Dekraai was the one who filed for divorce from Fournier that same year. He claimed that whenever he contacted her about their son, Dominic, Fournier used nasty language and threatened to keep his boy from him. Her heavy drinking endangered Dominic, Dekraai alleged. Recovering in bed from his horrible boat accident, Fournier would call him several times a days, always beginning with a tirade of expletives directed toward Dekraai, he claims in the court documents.
Dr. Ronald T. Silverstein testified that Fournier was harassing a recovering Dekraai by telephone. The judge then ordered the couple to refrain from talking with one another except once a week, by phone, for 10 minutes to discuss issues involving their son.
But, also during this time, Dekraai was changing. Many who'd known him for years but lost contact recently did not recognize the fit, retired and cool-headed Marine they knew as the bloated and confused man shown being arrested by Seal Beach police Wednesday.
Fournier filed court documents in May that claim Dekraai was physically abusive and manic in behavior. He apparently become enraged in recent weeks over Fournier seeking to change the custody agreement--for their son's safety.
"He's a lunatic," Fournier's best friend Laurie Phillips told KTLA News after the mass killing. Phillips said when she first heard about the shooting, she immediately knew Dekraai was involved.
"I just talked to her Tuesday night," Phillips said of Fournier. "She was a lot of fun, a great person. She had two older kids who are amazing."
That would have been hours after a brief court hearing over the couple's custody dispute. Phillips denied Dekraai's earlier allegations that made Fournier out to be an alcoholic and bad mother were true.
Fournier told friends, co-workers and salon clients that Dekraai physically threatened her and was out to get her. There are conflicting reports about whether she took out a restraining order against him. The Los Angeles Times reports she did not, other media outlets claim she got one within 24 hours of the attack.
Mindy Dekraai, the suspect's current wife who was spotted briefly at the couple's Huntington Beach home before quickly darting away, was reportedly a nurse who helped her newlywed husband through the boat accident. Neighbors have described them as a happy, loving couple and Dekraai as a doting father.
We may discover at tomorrow's press conference whether he will face the death penalty. Dominic could thus lose both parents.
UPDATE, OCT. 13, 1:38 P.M.: At a just-concluded press conference, the Seal Beach Police Department did not, as anticipated, release the names of victims of the mass shooting blamed on Scott Dekraai.
Instead, Capt. Tim Olson, the acting police chief, said those details and others will be revealed at another press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday with Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas at the DA's Santa Ana office. The OCDA also said it will not be revealing any details or giving interviews before that press conference.
Olson did reveal that Dekraai opened fire with a handgun, that he was captured without incident and that he is being held without bail. Olson thanked other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies for their assistance, singling out the Long Beach Police Department and its Chief Jim McDonnell.
But most of the press conference involved Olson and other city officials expressing their thoughts and prayers are with the families of victims and vowing that their tight-knight community will get through this. Police Chaplain Don Shoemaker invited everyone to tonight's vigil we blogged about previously.
The department's tight-lipped stance is not stopping the presumed names of victims from getting out. We previously blogged that Salon Meritage owner Randy Fannin and Dekraai's ex-wife Michelle Fournier, a stylist at the shop, were among those killed.
Based on other media reports and the cards and photos left at a makeshift memorial outside the salon, other named victims who were killed include Michelle Fast, Laura Webb and Christy Wilson.
There are reports that among the dead was the daughter of 73-year-old Hattie Stretz, the Seal Beach woman who survived the shooting and is said to be improving at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. It is unclear at this report whether the daughter is among those named above.
UPDATE, OCT. 13, 11:29 A.M.: CNN reports that among the dead was suspected gunman Scott Dekraai's former wife, Michelle Fournier.
Community members are invited to a candlelight vigil from 8-11 tonight at Salon Meritage, 500 Pacific Coast Hwy., Ste. 100, Seal Beach, where a makeshift memorial has been set up by mourners. More details are on the vigil's Facebook page.
Many people are already leaving condolences on the salon's Facebook page. "90 minute facial, ocean breezes, true bliss!" is how the salon had described itself.
UPDATE, OCT. 13, 9:17 A.M.: The Seal Beach Police Department (SBPD) confirmed late last night that tugboat captain Scott Dekraai of Huntington Beach has been arrested on suspicion of multiple murder in the worst mass shooting in Orange County history. The thrice married 41-year-old was in body armor and loaded to the hilt with weapons and ammo on his body and in his vehicle when he walked into a bustling Salon Meritage in the sleepy beach town and started firing around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, police say. Eight people are dead and one is clinging to life.
Six of the deceased were women and two were men, according to police. Clients and family members have identified one dead victim as the salon's male owner, Randy Fannin. The women who were killed were all inside the salon at the time of the shooting. The other male victim was sitting in his Land Rover outside the salon when the fleeing gunman shot him. That victim was rushed to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, where he and another female victim later died. Another female, identified as 73-year-old Hattie Stretz of Seal Beach, is listed in critical condition there.
Dekraai was apparently involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle since 2007 with his former wife, Michelle Fournier, a stylist at the salon. It has not been confirmed whether she was among the victims. They had a routine custody hearing in an Orange County courthouse on Tuesday. Dekraai was apparently seeking full custody of their 7-year-old.
Witnesses say he walked into the salon with a limp, which was the result of a work-related leg injury. He was honorably discharged from the military
The Melody Lane home in Surf City where Dekraai resides with his third wife, Mindy, has been besieged by television news vans. Neighbors have described him as a doting father often seen playing outdoors with his son. He moved in about two years ago.
Huntington Beach is a large city that has seen its share of media circuses. Seal Beach is not. Needless to say, the police department has been overwhelmed by the media attention. There had only been four homicides in the past 10 years there, the last one in 2010.
A police spokesman says the county coroner has notified all the next of kin of the deceased and that the department will start releasing names after consultation with the Orange County District Attorney's office today.
UPDATE, OCT. 12, 6:07 P.M.: The shooter has been identified as Scott Dekraai of Huntington Beach.
He allegedly targeted his ex-wife Michelle, the mother of their 7-year-old.
He reportedly works in the sportsfishing industry.
Dekraai, wearing body armor, had weapons strewn across the floorboard of his white truck and guns strapped to his body, reports Los Alamitos-Seal Beach Patch. He shot two clients sitting in salon chairs first.
The gunman reportedly resided in a single-family home with his son Dominic from a previous marriage and new wife Mindy, KCBS/Channel 2 is reporting. His neighbors were baffled by the crime, saying Dekraai was a "well-mannered" man who often played outdoors with his son.
However, his ex-wife had told co-workers Dekraai was coming after him and she sought a restraining order against him, KCBS reports.
The Seal Beach Police Department refused to confirm the shooter's identification or the types of weapons he used at a just-concluded news conference. Patch got the ID from people inside the salon who survived, and the name Scott Dekraai also was reported by KCBS.
UPDATE, OCT. 12, 5:51 P.M.: Two more victims of today's shooting spree at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach died at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, taking the death toll to eight in what is now the worst mass killing in Orange County history. The previous worst happened in 1976 when Edward Charles Allaway shot nine people, killing seven, at Cal State Fullerton.
The Orange County Register shares chilling details from a customer who was in a chair at the salon when the middle-age man she knew came into the salon and started popping off shots. His first victim was a mother, and the stylist coloring the witness' hair was also shot.
The shooter has not yet been identified, but Seal Beach police have a press conference scheduled in about 10 minutes.
UPDATE, OCT. 12, 4:43 P.M.: Some Seal Beach neighbors of Salon Meritage thought the commotion they heard around 1:30 p.m. today was from the nearby taping of a CSI: Miami episode.
If only that's what it was: a gunman in body armor shot nine people, killing six including the salon owner and critically injuring three.
There are conflicting reports on what prompted the killing spree. The Los Angeles Times reports some saying the shooter had been engaged in a custody dispute involving a salon worker, and Seal Beach police saying they don't yet know if he even knew anyone there. His name has not been released.
He was arrested about a half mile away from the salon after a responding cop saw him leaving there. He is suspected of being a lone gunman. What he used to carry out the killings has not yet been divulged.
One victim was found outside the salon, the rest were sprawled across the inside.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 12, 2:24 P.M.: The Orange County Register is reporting that nine people were injured in a shooting at a business in the 500 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Seal Beach. The business is apparently a hair salon.
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