People who knew the man who went on a deadly shooting rampage in Santa Monica on Friday say they remember a troubled kid with a violent home life who surfed the web for assault weapons at school, according to multiple reports.
Details are surfacing about 23-year-old John Zawahri’s past, and his mother — who was out of the country at the time of the shooting — issued this statement to the press:
“As may be assumed, I am in mourning for my family and those who were also affected by this horrific tragedy over the past few days. I cannot express my great sadness for the families who are also suffering at this terrible time. I do ask the media to please give me time to grieve and come to grips with the overwhelming sorrow. This has befallen all of us.”
Zawahri’s father and brother were among the five victims of the shooting. They were found dead in a burning home the day of the shooting. Zawahri himself died in a shootout with police outside the Santa Monica college library, where he ended his violent rampage.
40 large-capacity magazines in pouches in his clothing and in a bag he carried. Each magazine held about 30 rounds. The ammunition was strapped to his body
Here’s what we know so far about Zawahri and his attack on Friday:
- He strapped large-capacity magazines to his body during the attack, according to the Los Angeles Times. The AP reported that he was carrying a duffel bag with 1,300 rounds of ammunition when officers shot him. He was also wearing a protective vest and carrying an assault-style rifle.
- He went to an alternative school in Santa Monica. One of his teachers remembers an incident in 2006 when he saw Zawahri looking for assault weapons online at school. The teacher reported him to the principal and he was sent to a psychiatric ward at UCLA.
- A high school classmate said Zawahri once invited him to his house, showed him a samurai sword, and talked about students at the school who he wanted to hurt. A teacher told the LA Times that he reported the incident, police searched Zawahri’s house and he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where he didn’t stay for long.
- Zawahri has been described as “very clingy to his mother.” In the late 1990s, Zawahri’s mother, Randa Abdou,filed a restraining order against his father, accusing him of being controlling and abusive. Abdou also said that Samir Zawahri, John’s father, has threatened to kill her.
- Law enforcement sources told the LA Times that Zawahri has a history of mental health problems. They did not specify what the mental health problems were.
- A man who lives next door to Zawahri and his mother told the LA Times that he would often hear Zawahri “yelling, screaming and cursing” and described the young man as “angry.”
Police have not officially determined a motive for the attack, but some law enforcement sources have speculated that Zawahri’s parents’ bitter divorce might have stoked his anger. His parents had also viciously argued over custody of Zawahri and his brother, according to documents obtained by the New York Daily News.