Orange County News
Mourners gather for candlelight vigil at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach
SEAL BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Mourners gathered at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach Thursday night to honor those who were shot by a gunman.
Seal Beach Police identified the victims in Wednesday's Salon Meritage shooting.
Eight people were fatally shot at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach Wednesday afternoon, marking the deadliest shooting in Orange County history.
Police responded to a report of shots fired on the 500 block of Pacific Coast Highway at 1:21 p.m. Wednesday. They found nine people shot at Salon Meritage, eight inside and one man shot in the parking lot.
Six victims were declared dead at the scene. Three people were hospitalized in critical condition; two died at the hospital Wednesday. A ninth victim remained in critical condition at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center Thursday.
At 3:45 p.m. Thursday, Seal Beach Police released identities of the Salon Meritage murder victims.
- Fannin, Randy Lee
- Buzzo, Victoria Ann
- Kondas, Lucia Bernice
- Elody, Laura Lee
- Wilson, Christy Lynn
- Fournier, Michelle Marie
- Fast, Michele Daschbach
- Caouette, David
The victim identities were confirmed by the Orange County Coroner's Office and the next of kin contacted.
The ninth victim in critical condition was identified by friends and neighbors as 73-year-old Hattie Stretz. Stretz's daughter, Laura Lee Elody, who went by Laura Webb, was an employee at the salon and did not survive Wednesday's shooting. Stretz was at the salon to visit her daughter.
At a Thursday afternoon news conference, Seal Beach Police announced a joint news conference with Orange County District Attorney Anthony Rackauckas scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday to give further details of the shooting.
The suspect, 42-year-old Scott Evans Dekraai of Huntington Beach, was arrested about a half-mile from the scene Wednesday as he was driving his white Toyota Tundra pickup truck. Witnesses said Dekraai told police he had a knife in each pocket and three weapons in his truck. A witness said Dekraai had ammunition in his cargo pants.
During the arrest, officers opened up Dekraai's button-down shirt and found that he was wearing body armor, according to witnesses.
Dekraai was held Thursday at Orange County Jail in Santa Ana without bail.
Authorities are still trying to determine a motive, but some witnesses told Eyewitness News that Dekraai and his ex-wife, salon employee Michelle Fournier Dekraai, were involved in a custody battle.
Police believe the day before the shooting, Dekraai and Fournier were at a court hearing over the custody of their 8-year-old son, Dominic. Court documents could be seen in the back seat of Fournier's car after the shooting.
Fournier had alleged Dekraai was unstable and had at least once threatened to kill himself or someone else.
"Scott Dekraai's demeanor throughout this case has been controlled and he never gave any indication that he housed the potential for such destruction and carnage," said Fournier's attorney, John Cate. "Michelle's son Dominic is also a victim and by one act of a desperate man has been deprived of both a mother and a father."
According to court documents obtained by Eyewitness News, Michelle Fournier described Scott Dekraai as physically abusive and unstable during their marriage.
Additional court documents also show that Scott Dekraai had a restraining order against him that was filed by his stepfather.
"By far, this is the greatest tragedy that Seal Beach has ever experienced," said Seal Beach Police Sgt. Steve Bowles. "There will be some grieving time for us, but our mission at this point in time is make sure we get a successful prosecution on this subject for the deaths that occurred, as well as to really comfort the families of the victims."
The salon was packed at the time of the shooting, but some people escaped being shot.
"Much of it was luck for many people. Some hid and some left, obviously ran out of one of the exits. We were able to secure a number of witnesses who were in the salon at the time, and we're pursuing those witnesses and their vital information for the prosecution," said Bowles.
Community reacts to tragedy
Seal Beach resident Debbie Mendoza learned Thursday morning that her neighbor and good friend was one of the victims killed in the shooting rampage.
"That's what I think everybody in our community is trying to cope with is the 'why,'" said Mendoza.
Grieving community members dropped off a steady stream of flowers, cards and stuffed animals throughout the day. A candlelight vigil will be held for the victims at the salon Thursday night.
"[Fournier] was a good mom. She was in a terrible situation, that's all," said Michelle Fournieri's friend Susan Davenport.
Davenport was too distraught to say anything else after finding out that her friend was likely the intended target and was killed.
"I can't stop crying. I barely slept last night," said Mary Sterns, who knows Randy Fannin, the owner of Salon Meritage.
"He was just the greatest guy you'd ever want to meet," Sterns said, adding that when she heard what happened on the news, she instinctively knew Fannin had been one of the victims.
"I knew that he would have been one of them, because I knew he would try to do something, and I heard that he did," Sterns said.
Friends say Fannin began his business 20 years ago and designed the entire salon.
Eyewitness News spoke with a nearby business owner who ran into the salon shortly after the shooting. He described the scene as gruesome and said five people had locked themselves into back rooms in the salon to avoid being shot.
That business owner also said he saw Fannin on the ground near the salon's entrance with his wife at his side trying to administer CPR, but unfortunately, she was not successful.
Neighbors shocked to learn suspect's identity
Neighbors still can't believe that Dekraai, a person they viewed as a nice guy, would go on a deadly shooting spree.
"I'm still in shock. I cannot believe it. He's the nicest guy. He's super-nice. My daughter loves him. He's just the most caring neighbor," said Stephanie Malchow.
Dekraai had moved to his Huntington Beach home three years ago with his son. His neighbors said they were aware that his first marriage ended badly, but they thought he was happily building a new life.
"I've never even heard him speak really bad about the ex-wife. I mean, when it'd come up, I guess he would just kind of say he didn't feel like she was a nice person," said Malchow.
Dekraai and ex-wife Fournier divorced in 2007, a month after a tugboat accident in which Dekraai's leg was severely injured, causing him to walk with a limp. He received what was described as a large settlement from the accident.
Neighbors are concerned about the impact of the tragedy on Dekraai's son.
"My heart really goes out to Dominic, his son, because he's a cute little boy, and I'm just thinking I don't know what's going to happen to Dominic from this point forward," said Rivera.
It was earlier reported that the son of Dekraai and Fournier was 7, but officials now say the boy is 8.
shooting, arrest, murder, homicide investigation, orange county news
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