2011 Seal Beach shooting
|2011 Seal Beach shooting|
Salon Meritage, with floral tributes, following the shooting
|Location||500 Pacific Coast Hwy,
Seal Beach, California, U.S.
|Date||October 12, 2011|
|Mass murder, massacre|
|Perpetrator||Scott Evans Dekraai|
A mass shooting occurred on October 12, 2011, at the Salon Meritage hair salon in Seal Beach, California. Eight people inside the salon and one person in the parking lot were shot, and only one victim survived. It was the deadliest mass killing in Orange County history.
Scott Evans Dekraai, who was involved in a custody dispute with his ex-wife who was one of the victims, pled guilty to the shooting on May 2, 2014. The punishment phase of his trial has been delayed due to a dispute between the judge and the district attorney's office.
On Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm PDT (20:21 UTC), police responded to reports of shots fired at the Salon Meritage hair salon at 500 Pacific Coast Highway. The shooter was armed with three handguns, and reloaded at least once during the attack, which lasted two minutes. There were about twenty people in the salon at the time, some managing to escape by running into the street or hiding in neighboring businesses. Six people were declared dead at the scene, and three survivors were taken to a hospital where two of them later died of their wounds. Police later named the weapons used in the shooting as a 9mm Springfield, a .45-caliber Heckler & Koch, and a .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 29.
The shooter's former wife, Michelle Fournier, one of the employees at the salon, was one of the victims. The suspect in the shooting, named by police as 41-year-old Scott Evans Dekraai of Huntington Beach, California, was arrested without incident after being stopped while driving a white pickup truck about one half-mile (0.8 km) from the scene of the crime. Dekraai was wearing body armor at the time of his arrest.
The incident was the worst mass murder in Orange County since the Fullerton massacre in July 1976, in which seven people died. There had been only one murder in Seal Beach during the previous four years. A candlelight vigil was held in the evening of the next day for the victims of the shooting. A fund set up to aid victims of the shooting raised around $400,000. A remodeled Salon Meritage reopened under the same name on November 18, 2012.
The shooting left six women and two men dead. One other woman was also shot, but survived. The victims are:
- Victoria Buzzo, 54, who worked at the salon
- David Caouette, 64, died after being shot in his Land Rover Discovery parked outside the salon. Caouette was the final victim, and was shot through the front windshield and passenger window of his vehicle. He had been visiting the restaurant next to the salon.
- Randy Lee Fannin, 62, the owner of Salon Meritage; according to eyewitnesses, he was the first person to be shot. He reportedly said to the gunman: "Please don't do this. There's another way. Let's go outside and talk."
- Michele Daschbach Fast, 47, a customer who was having her hair styled at the salon
- Michelle Marie Fournier, 48, who worked as a hair stylist at the salon and was the ex-wife of shooting suspect Scott Dekraai
- Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65, a customer who was having her hair styled at the salon
- Laura Webb, 46, worked at the salon and was doing her mother's hair at the time of the incident; her mother, Hattie Stretz, 73, was shot and critically injured
- Christy Lynn Wilson, 47, who worked at the salon. Wilson testified in a court custody hearing on behalf of Fournier the day before the shooting spree.
- Hattie Stretz, 73, was critically injured, but survived the shooting, and was released from the hospital on October 17. She was a customer having her hair done by her daughter, Laura Webb, one of the stylists who died in the shooting.
Scott Evans Dekraai (born October 17, 1969) divorced his wife Michelle in 2007 after four years of marriage. Court records showed that he had been engaged in a bitter custody dispute over his eight-year-old son. His personality was said to have changed after an accident on board a tugboat in February 2007, which left him with serious leg injuries. Following an incident later in 2007 involving his stepfather, a restraining order was filed against him, barring him from possessing firearms. The order lasted a year and had expired at the time of the shooting. Court documents filed in September 2008 diagnosed him with posttraumatic stress disorder. A court hearing had taken place on Tuesday, October 11, 2011, the day before the shooting, which recommended a near-equal custody arrangement.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced on October 14, 2011, that Dekraai would be charged with eight counts of murder with special circumstances, and one of attempted murder. He also indicated that his office would seek the death penalty. In a news conference following the shooting, Rackauckas said: "For almost two minutes, Dekraai shot victim after victim, executing eight people by shooting them in the head and chest. He was not done. He then walked out of the salon and shot a ninth victim, a male, who was sitting nearby in a parked Range Rover."
In an affidavit submitted to police, Dekraai said that he first shot his ex-wife multiple times on entering the salon, contradicting the view of eyewitnesses that salon owner Randy Fannin was the first victim. Dekraai said that on the morning of the shooting, he had argued with his ex-wife over the telephone, causing him to consider killing her. He also said that David Caouette – an apparently random victim sitting in his parked car outside the salon – had been shot because he thought that he was "an off-duty or undercover police officer".
Dekraai's arraignment took place on November 29, 2011, at which he entered a plea of not guilty. The start date for the trial, originally scheduled for March 25, 2013, was postponed until November 2013 to allow defense attorneys to review recordings obtained by a prison informant. The trial was postponed again until March 24, 2014. Dekraai pleaded guilty to the shooting on May 2. The punishment phase of his trial was scheduled for August 18.
In March 2015, the Orange County District Attorney's Office was removed from the case following a ruling by Judge Thomas Goethals that the office had violated Dekraai's rights by improperly withholding evidence from the defense. Goethals assigned California Attorney General Kamala Harris to take over the prosecution. Harris' office announced its intention to appeal the decision, leading to a delay in the sentencing.
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- "8 Slain in O.C.’S Deadliest Mass Killing (video)". The Orange County Register. October 12, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
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- 911 audio recordings capture the chaos inside Seal Beach salon Los Angeles Times, October 18, 2011.
- DA to seek death penalty for alleged Seal Beach shooter Press-Telegram, October 14, 2011.
- Seal Beach shooting: ‘This coward will be brought to justice’ Los Angeles Times, October 14, 2011.
- "Seal Beach survivor thought shooting was prank". CBS News. October 13, 2011. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
- Gunman kills 8 at Seal Beach salon. Los Angeles Times, October 12, 2011.
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- Police initially gave Dekraai's age as 42; his date of birth is October 17, 1969.
- California shooting: Eight killed at Seal Beach salon BBC News, October 13, 2011.
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- "Seal Beach Victims' Fund Raised $400,000". Los Alamitos – SealBeachPatch. January 3, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- Kopetman, Roxana (November 18, 2012). "A year after Seal Beach shootings, Salon Meritage reopens". The Orange County Register. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
- "She danced through life". The Orange County Register. October 13, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
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- Seal Beach shooting: Scott Dekraai charged with murder BBC News, October 14, 2011.
- "Victim remembered as loving, fun soccer mom". The Orange County Register. October 13, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- Michele Daschbach Fast: Daughter of Atherton, beloved family member and lifelong sports fan, inmenlo.com (October 14, 2011)
- "A custody dispute may have led to ex-wife’s death". The Orange County Register. October 13, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "Salon patron recalled as ‘warm, brilliant'". The Orange County Register. October 14, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- Laura Webb was named as Laura Lee Elody on the police list of victims, but had recently married and was known as Laura Webb at the time of the shooting.
- "She was shot while doing her mother's hair". The Orange County Register. October 13, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "She was part of the beauty family". The Orange County Register. October 13, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "Seal Beach shooting: Lone survivor released from hospital". Los Angeles Times. October 17, 2011. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- Neighbors Of Salon Owner Stunned By Deadly Shooting CBSLosAngeles, October 13, 2011.
- Seal Beach shooting: Suspect suffered PTSD from boat injury. Los Angeles Times, October 13, 2011.
- Seal Beach shooting suspect was a haunted man. Los Angeles Times, October 13, 2011.
- Poor decisions shadowed salon shooting suspect. Associated Press, October 15, 2011.
- "Seal Beach shootings: Death penalty sought". The Orange County Register. October 14, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "Seal Beach suspect says he saw bruises on son". The Orange County Register. November 2, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
- Accused Seal Beach salon shooter Scott Dekraai pleads not guilty. Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2011.
- Welborn, Larry (October 20, 2012). "March 25 trial date set in Seal Beach salon shooting". The Orange County Register. p. Local 1.
- Welborn, Larry (February 23, 2013). "Seal Beach shootings trial delayed". The Orange County Register. pp. Local 1, 3.
- Jolly, Vik (August 31, 2013). "Seal Beach trial delay adds to grief". The Orange County Register. p. Local 1.
- Esquivel, Paloma (August 30, 2013). "Relatives of Seal Beach shooting victims want trial to start soon". Los Angeles Times.
- Flores, Adolfo (May 2, 2014). "Man pleads guilty in Seal Beach salon killings, may face death penalty". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
- "Seal Beach mass shooting suspect Scott Dekraai now a convicted killer". Los Angeles Times. May 2, 2014.
- O.C. salon murder case stalls as D.A. office's removal is appealed. Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2015.
- Saavedra, Tony (March 21, 2015). "'This ship has sunk:' Families fed up with further delays in Scott Dekraai case". The Orange County Register. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
- Image gallery of the scene of the shooting BBC News, October 13, 2011.
- Slayings pierce Seal Beach's sense of safety Los Angeles Times, October 14, 2011.
- To the chaos in Seal Beach, firefighters bring focus, skill and heart Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2011.
- Seal Beach salon shooting site remains closed 3 months later Daily Breeze, January 8, 2012.
- City to Design Memorial for Shooting Victims Overlooking the Ocean LosAlamitos-SealBeachPatch, February 28, 2012.
- Tearing Down, Then Rebuilding at Seal Beach Massacre Site NBC News, March 23, 2012.