A family friend of the gunman who killed four people during a Santa Monica shooting rampage said he had an intense interest in guns.
The friend, who asked not to be identified, said John Zawahri, 24, had “a fascination with guns. We were all worried about it…. Everyone is wondering where he got the money for the weapons.”
Law enforcement sources described Zawahri as an emotionally troubled person who armed himself with high-powered weapons and may have had up to 1,300 rounds of ammunition.
Several of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Zawahri had struggled with his parents’ bitter divorce. He also had a history of mental issues, the sources said, but they could not be more specific.
Santa Monica police said Saturday that the department had dealt with the gunman in connection with an incident in 2006 but would not provide details because he was a juvenile at the time.
Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks also said officers had previously gone to the Yorkshire Avenue home where the rampage began.
Just before noon Friday, the home was set on fire and authorities found the gunman’s father, Samir Zawahri, 55, and brother, Chris, 25, dead, sources said.
Seabrooks said the gunman was “connected” with Santa Monica College in 2010 but did not say whether he was a student.
Police said the rampage lasted about 10 minutes, with the gunman cutting a sharp, bloody path through normally quiet streets. It ended when Zawahri, who’d been firing a semiautomatic rifle, was shot and killed on the campus.
“Any time someone puts on a vest of some sort, comes out with a bag full of loaded magazines … has a handgun and has a semiautomatic rifle, carjacks folks, goes to a college, kills more people and has to be killed at the hands of police,” Seabrooks said, “… that’s premeditated.”
Details on the gunman and his victims weren’t available Saturday, partly because the shooter’s mother, identified by the sources as Randa Abdou, was said to be out of the country and had not been reached by police.
As investigators fanned out across Santa Monica, surveying multiple crime scenes, a picture of the gunman’s fractured and troubled family emerged.
Zawahri’s parents had been divorced for years, neighbors said. Court records show two divorce filings. One was filed in 1993, by Samir Zawahri. Another, noting domestic violence, was filed by Abdou in 1998.