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Fifth Victim Dead in Santa Monica Shooting Spree

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark


Rusty's Surf

By Jorge Casuso

June 10, 2013 -- The death toll in Friday's shooting spree that culminated at the main campus of Santa Monica College rose to six Sunday, including the gunman shot by police, who has been identified as John Zawahri.

Marcela Franco, 26, died of her injuries at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center Sunday, according to SMC officials. She was a passenger in the car driven by her father, Carlos Navarro Franco, 68, a longtime groundskeeper for the college who was shot dead at the scene.

shooting spree gunman
Photo courtesy of SMPD

Police identified the first two victims as the gunman's father, Samir Zawahri, 55, and his brother Christopher Zawahri, 24. Their bodies were found in a burning house on the 2000 block of Yorkshire shortly after noon Friday.

The identity of the fifth victim, a woman who was shot outside the SMC library, has not been released.

In a press conference Saturday, Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks described a chilling scene inside the library as the "cowardly murderer" opened fire and "attempted to kill several library patrons who were in a safe room.

"They were able to see what was going on" and locked themselves inside the room, Seabrooks said. "They stacked items against the door, hunkered down and avoided shots" fired through the door.

"It's a miracle they were not killed," Seabrooks said.

The gunman, who was captured on a surveillance video striding into the library carrying an assault rifle, was shot dead by police after an exchange of gunfire, authorities said.

Zawahri, who went on the killing spree on the eve of his 24th birthday, was dressed in black and heavily armed, the police chief said.

He had an AR-15 with multiple ammunition magazines. A duffel bag he dropped on campus was packed with additional magazines, boxes of bullets, an upper receiver for shotgun shells and a .44 revolver. A small cache of ammunition was also found in a room in the burned-out house.

All told, Zawahri would have been capable of firing 1,300 rounds, Seabrooks said.

The first killings took place in the house tucked against the 10 Freeway a dozen blocks northeast of the campus, police said.

After killing his father and brother, the gunman carjacked a woman near the murder scene. "He told her where to drive at gunpoint," Seabrooks said. "She was terrified."

The victim was forced to drive to SMC and ordered to stop at Cloverfield and Pico boulevards, where the gunman sprayed a Santa Monica bus with bullets, injuring several passengers, none critically.

Zawahri then ordered the driver to go to the campus lot at 20th and Pearl streets, where he got out of the vehicle and shot at Franco's Ford Explorer, killing the father and critically wounding his daughter. The gunman then ran into campus and headed for the library, where he shot his fifth victim.

Chief Seabrooks said that the violence was not considered "a school shooting."

"In this case, the circumstances began in the car, continued along Santa Monica and ended on the campus," she said. "That's not a school shooting."

Seabrooks said Zawahri was enrolled at SMC "as recently as 2010."

He had a run in with the law in 2006, Seabrooks said, adding that his record could not be released because he was a juvenile at the time.

Police are still investigating the motive for the shootings. Asked at the press conference if the violence was premeditated, Seabrooks responded:

“I would presume any time someone puts on a vest of some sort, comes out with a bag full of loaded magazines, has an extra receiver, has a handgun and has a semi-automatic rifle, carjacks folks, goes to a college, kills more people and has to be neutralized, I would say that’s premeditated.”

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