SANTA MONICA—A local community is starting to put the pieces back together after a June 7th shooting spree ripped across Santa Monica Community College and the surrounding area, killing five and wounding others. Investigators are currently looking into the motives of 23-year-old John Zawahri, who died when he exchanged gunfire with police.
According to KPCC, local police were first notified of Zawahri’s presence when reports flooded in of overheard gunfire on the 2000 block of Yorkshire Avenue at 11:52 AM. The Santa Monica Fire Department was also alerted of a fire at that same address. When authorities arrived on the scene, they discovered a shooting victim outside of the house in a vehicle, and two bodies inside of the residence. The two bodies were later identified as Samir and Christopher Zawahri, his father and older brother, respectively.
Four minutes later, police received calls that Zawahri shot at a bus in the area of Pico and Cloverfield Boulevard, injuring two. Zawahri then reportedly carjacked a woman at gunpoint, forcing her to drive him until he made her stop in the area of 20th Street and Pico Boulevard, and he began to shoot at random.
At two minutes past noon, more shots were fired in the area of 20th and Pearl Street, killing 68-year-old Santa Monica College employee Carlos Navarro Franco and fatally wounding his daughter Marcela. The 26-year-old CSU Dominguez Hills student was transported to the Ronald Reagan UCLA medical center, where she would later succumb to her injuries.
At 12:03, Zawahri shot and killed a 68-year-old woman, Margarita Gomez, who was collecting recyclable cans outside the SMC library, before entering the building and firing at students and faculty. Shortly thereafter, Zawahri engaged in a firefight with police before being killed at 12:05.
After his death, police recovered the AR-15 style rife used during the ten minute rampage. Also found were a duffel bag .44 caliber revolver and 1,300 rounds of ammunition. Authorities are still investigating whether Zawahri had obtained the weapons and ammunition legally.
As more details are discovered about his life, Zawahri’s troubled past is coming under increased scrutiny. According to court records, Zawahri’s mother divorced his father because of accusations of abuse and intimidation. After the divorce, Zawahri moved in with his father while his brother moved in with the mother.
In 2006, Zawahri transferred from Santa Monica High School to Olympic High School, a continuation school, after too many low grades and truancies. It was during his time at Olympic High School that faculty and administration grew concerned over Zawahri’s obsession with weapons and explosives.
Santa Monica school board member Oscar de la Torre had always thought of Zawahri’s behavior as more of a fascination with the military instead of a threat, even when Zawahri was allegedly found with materials used to make a pipe bomb.
“It wasn’t seen as someone who’s planning to do something to harm others,” de la Torre told KPCC.
While school district officials say that records do not indicate whether Zawahri was in possession of explosive materials or not, they did confirm that a series of disturbing behavior and discussions triggered a mental health assessment.
According to The Associated Press, Zawahri was held for mental evaluation at a hospital in 2006.
Huffington Post: John Zawahri’s Father Was Abusive, Santa Monica College Shooter’s Mom Charged
Santa Monica Patch: Santa Monica Victims: Samir & Christopher Zawahri
Santa Monica Patch: Santa Monica Victims: Carlos and Marcela Franco