5 dead in Santa Monica shooting, 6th death imminent
Violence began with house fire near school
Last Updated: 186 days ago
SANTA MONICA, Calif. - Five people were killed Friday in a rolling wave of violence that began with a shooting and fire in a Santa Monica neighborhood, then continued with a gunman firing randomly at people and vehicles on Pico Boulevard and then on the campus of Santa Monica College, where the suspect was killed by police.
The violent events unfolded around midday about three miles south of a political fundraiser attended by President Barack Obama.
According to police, the crime spree began around 11:50 a.m. with reports of shots fired and a house ablaze near Yorkshire and Kansas avenues. Fire crews doused the fire and then found "multiple" victims inside the home, according to Santa Monica fire Chief Scott Ferguson.
Two people found dead in the home may be related to the suspect, said Sgt. Richard Lewis of the Santa Monica Police Department. Those victims are believed to be the father of the gunman, 55-year-old Samir Zawahri, and one of Zawahri's adult sons, law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times.
According to witnesses, the gunman, clad in black and carrying a semi-automatic weapon, stood on Yorkshire Avenue and shot at a woman who was driving by.
The man, armed with what authorities said was an AR-15-type semi-automatic rifle, then carjacked a woman's vehicle, forcing her to drive toward the Santa Monica College campus.
At Cloverfield and Pico boulevards, he began firing randomly at people and vehicles, including a Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, which wound up about mile north riddled with bullets. Near 19th and Pearl streets, he fired into a red SUV, killing the man driving it and seriously wounding a woman in the passenger seat, police said.
The man in the red SUV was later identified as Carlos Navarro Franco, a 68-year-old resident of West Los Angeles, said Coroner's Investigator Joyce Kato.
The gunman fled into the campus library, where he continued firing and was eventually gunned down by police, Seabrooks said.
Three shooting victims, all female, were taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, two in critical condition and one in serious condition, according to UCLA health officials.
One of the critical patients -- who was shot in the stomach -- was dead by mid-afternoon. The other was shot in the head, was in critical condition in an intensive care unit after surgery, officials said.
Los Angeles County coroner's Capt. John Kades said early Saturday morning, however, that death was imminent for one of the women at Ronald Reagan and that she was possibly brain dead. A coroner's case number had already been assigned for that victim.
Three other victims, also female, were taken to UCLA Medical Center Santa Monica in good condition. They were treated for minor injuries and released.
Campus worker Joe Orcutt told reporters the suspect fired a shot at him.
"He fired two (shots) in the parking lot area and then when I turned around he shot at me, I was the third," Orcutt said. "And I heard probably another three, four individual shots until maybe three or four minutes later, and just a barrage of fire, which I'm assuming was the police firing at the library."
SMC and neighboring Will Rogers Elementary School and John Adams Middle School were also locked down during the investigation, as was Santa Monica High School, while police combed through the campus to ensure there were no other suspects at large.
SMC students were taking final exams, but in the wake of the shooting, all the exams for the balance of the day were canceled.
One student told KCAL9 the suspect was waving an assault weapon and looked to be prepared for combat.
"He had a helmet on, like the Army wears," the witness said. "... He had a bulletproof vest with a jacket over it. He had jeans ... and Army boots on."
The body of the gunman was removed from the library and could be seen on aerial television photos on the ground near the southern end of campus.
Neighboring Will Rogers Elementary School and John Adams Middle School were also locked down during the investigation, as was Santa Monica High School.
Graduation ceremonies at Santa Monica High School were expected to go on as scheduled Friday.
Some SMC students and campus workers -- with their hands in the air -- were escorted off campus by police, and some of them were taken past the gunman's body.
Counseling services will be available for students and employees at SMC's Bundy campus on the second floor from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and on the main campus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.
The college has also set up a 24-hour support hotline at 866- 315-7370 for students and employees.
Officials encouraged people with type-O negative, type-O positive and type AB blood to donate. The UCLA Blood & Platelet Center located at 1045 Gayley Ave. will be open today. Appointments can be made by calling 310-825-0888, ext. 2.
The shooting occurred just miles from the scene of a Democratic National Committee fundraiser attended by President Barack Obama in northern Santa Monica. The shooting did not impact the actual event, according to the U.S. Secret Service, but it did alter the president's route back to Los Angeles International Airport.
The president was originally expected to be driven back to Santa Monica Airport for a helicopter flight to LAX. Instead, the president was driven in a motorcade directly from the fundraiser to LAX.
An SMC student told ABC7 he heard the gunfire.
"I was near the bookstore when I heard 15 or 20 more shots," he said. "I stopped and went into the Theater Arts building. ... I'm extremely shaken."
Another student said she heard gunshots while she was heading to the library to study for her final exams, which were being administered on the campus this week.
"I ran to my car as quick as I could," she told Channel 7. "I didn't know what to do."
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Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. City News Service contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.