Suspect identified in California hair salon shooting

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 13, 2011 4:23 PM
Suspect identified in California hair salon shooting

By Dan Whitcomb

SEAL BEACH, California (Reuters) - Mourners laid flowers at a hair salon in Seal Beach on Thursday, one day after a gunman, identified as the ex-husband of a stylist there, killed eight people in a shooting rampage.

Police named the suspect as 42-year-old Scott Evans Dekraai of nearby Huntington Beach, who was expected to face multiple counts of murder in a shooting rampage that has been called the worst in Orange County history.

Dekraai's former wife worked as a hairstylist at the Salon Meritage, friends and business associates said. Authorities have declined to say if she was among the nine people shot on Wednesday afternoon, eight of them fatally.

The remaining victim was listed in critical condition at Long Beach Memorial Hospital, police said.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office declined comment on the case on Thursday, pending a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday morning.

Dekraai was taken into custody about half a mile from the salon in the heart of Seal Beach -- a town about 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles known by its residents as "Mayberry-by-the-Sea" for its bucolic, small-town feel.

A tearful Jim Watson, who developed the shopping center and still owns the building housing Salon Meritage, stood in front of the shuttered shop, its windows masked with black plastic and closed blinds.

Watson said he was a friend and customer of the salon's owner, Randy Fannin, who he said was killed in the attack.

"I just made a connection with Randy, I liked the way he cut my hair and I liked him as a person," Watson said, adding he had last seen Fannin several weeks earlier.

Watson said he was also a casual acquaintance of several of the hairstylists there, including Dekraai's ex-wife, and was waiting to hear if they had survived.

He said the community of Seal Beach, which had previously experienced only four homicides in the past decade, was shaken by the shooting rampage.

"This a beautiful community, absolutely marvelous, safe and quiet, people are very friendly, most people know each other," Watson said.

The shooting ranks as the worst mass killing in Orange County's history, surpassing the seven killed and two wounded in a shooting by Edward Charles Allaway at Cal State Fullerton in 1976, according to the Orange County Register newspaper

Wildflowers and roses were left at the salon's door, along with a poem, written on lined notebook paper, titled "8 souls."

(Editing by Peter Bohan)