DA to Seek Death Penalty for Salon Massacre
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — The gunman in the Southern California hair salon rampage wanted "to end any life in his path" during a two-minute killing spree in which he reloaded his weapons and shot some victims in the head in anger over a bitter custody case, a prosecutor said Friday.
Scott Dekraai had three guns and wore a bulletproof vest when he stormed through the busy Salon Meritage in downtown Seal Beach, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.
Eight victims were shot in the head and chest at close range before the gunman walked outside and shot another person as he sat in a parked Range Rover, the prosecutor said.
"He was willing to end any life in his path, and he did," Rackauckas said. At least 15 people were inside the salon at the time of the attack.
Dekraai was charged with eight counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty against the man Rackauckas called a "methodical and merciless killer."
Dekraai callously snubbed out eight irreplaceable lives "like they were collateral damage," said Rackauckas, who choked up several times during an emotional news conference.
He said the rampage was triggered by a long-running custody dispute that Dekraai had with his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier. She was one of the people fatally wounded.
Dekraai was seeking revenge against his ex-wife, who he believed was interfering in the raising of their 8-year-old son, Rackaukas said, adding that Dekraai believed his ex-wife's co-workers at the salon were "enablers" in the custody dispute."
"That little boy's a victim," the prosecutor said. "Now his mother has been murdered, and he has to grow up knowing that his dad is a mass-murderer. So what kind of sick, twisted fatherly love might that be?"
Fournier had recently told friends and family and said in court documents that she feared for her safety as Dekraai became more and more unbalanced.
Dekraai suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from a 2007 tugboat accident that mangled his leg and left a colleague dead but his marriage to Fournier was falling apart even before that.
Several hundred people attended a prayer service at a church across from the salon on Thursday night and more than 1,500 showed up with candles at a vigil in the parking lot of the shopping center where the salon stands.
The quaint, sun-splashed town of Seal Beach, with its Main Street of vintage shops, restaurants and boutiques, has had only had one homicide in the previous four years.