John Zawahri – the gunman accused of going on a shooting spree in Santa Monica Friday that left four people dead, among them his father and brother – was upset over his parents’ recent divorce and had a history of mental illness, it was revealed today.
Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said Saturday that the alleged shooter, identified as John Zawahri by multiple law enforcement sources, planned the attack and was capable of firing 1,300 rounds of ammunition.
“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 at the hands of the police, I would say that that’s premeditated,” she told reporters at a press conference.
John Zawahri would have turned 24 on Saturday.
Police had an encounter with him seven years ago, but they wouldn’t elaborate because he was a juvenile at the time.
Santa Monica college gunman John Zawahri went on shooting rampage killing four because he was angry at parents divorce
A law enforcement source has revealed to the Los Angeles Times that John Zawahri had suffered from mental problems in his youth.
As they work to untangle the circumstances surrounding the deadly rampage, police are trying to determine why the suspect wanted to be driven to Santa Monica College, where he was ultimately shot dead by police.
Laura Sisk, 41, who was carjacked by John Zawahri, told the Los Angeles Times that the man specifically asked her to be taken to the college and then let out. At this point in the investigation, authorities do not believe that the education institution was the target in the attack.
However, Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said the gunman was enrolled in the college, possibly along with a family member, as recently as 2010.
At a police press conference this afternoon, investigators put on display weapons and ammo recovered from Santa Monica College where the killings ended Friday when police gunned him down in the library, where students were studying for finals.
Among items presented to the press were surveillance photos of a man in black entering the library with an assault-style rifle by his side.
TJ Lane has been identified as the teenage killer who shot two students dead at Chardon High School in Ohio and left another three injured.
The teenager left a chilling note on his Facebook page weeks before the shooting.
TJ Lane, 17, who classmates described as a bullied outcast, ranted about “a man with a frown. No job. No family. No crown. His luck had run out. Lost and alone”.
The last line of his Facebook note reads: “Now! Feel death, not just mocking you. Not just stalking you but inside of you. Wriggle and writhe. Feel smaller beneath my might. Seizure in the Pestilence that is my scythe. Die, all of you.”
The news of the letter came comes as more details emerged about how TJ Lane specifically targeted one group of students in the cafeteria, including one who had started dating Lane’s ex-girlfriend
Local reports identified one of the other shooting victims as Russell King Jr., a sociable 17-year-old who had started dating an ex-girlfriend of the shooter.
After being shot in the back while sitting at a table in the cafeteria, Russell King Jr. was airlifted to MetroHealth Medical Center.
The Center identified the fatally slain student as 16-year-old Daniel Parmertor, who was shot when TJ Lane allegedly targeted a group in the high school cafeteria at Chardon High School.
In the wake of the shooting, other students have said that TJ Lane was known as an outcast who had apparently been bullied. He had Tweeted that he would bring a gun to school, but nobody took the threat seriously.
Now investigators hope to gain some insight into the mind of the killer, and have found a chilling note he wrote about his dark thoughts two months before the shooting spree.
Freshman Danny Komertz, 15, said he was just about to leave for his first-period health class when he heard a loud popping sound and then saw the gunman open fire.
The freshman said that the person who died was trying to get under a cafeteria table to protect himself and shield his face.
Danny Komertz says that there were at least 100 students in the cafeteria at the time and that most fled immediately as shots were fired.
“He was aiming right at them as he was two feet away … He wasn’t shooting around the cafeteria at all. He was directly aiming at the four of them,” the student said.
TJ Lane has been identified as the teenage killer who shot two students dead at Chardon High School in Ohio and left another three injured
Another student, Danny Mueller, saw the entire incident because he was right in the middle of it, so much so that his ear was grazed by a bullet.
“All of a sudden we heard a loud bang, almost like a firework. We turned around and I saw T.J. standing at the table behind us with his gun pointed and firing,” he said.
“His first shot made me look. His second shot I watched him take, which hit somebody behind me, and his third shot hit me as I was turning away.
“There was no warning or anything. He just opened fire.”
The shooting ended when the school’s assistant football coach Frank Hall chased TJ Lane out of the building, with many saying that the heroic move is just in keeping with the coach’s nature.
“Coach Hall, he always talks about how much he cares about us students, his team and everyone. And I think today he really went out and he proved how much he cared about us. He would take a bullet for us,” said student Neil Thomas.
The first victim’s family issued the following statement through the hospital : “We are shocked by this senseless tragedy.
“Danny was a bright young boy who had a bright future ahead of him. This family is torn by this loss.”
Daniel Parmertor had aspired to be a computer repairman, according to AP, and was shot while waiting for the bus bound for a vocational centre.
His teacher at Auburn Career School had no idea why Daniel Parmertor, “a very good young man, very quiet”, had been targeted, said Auburn superintendent Maggie Lynch.
Reports on TJ Lane’s personality and social status have been shaky, as each student interviewed paints a different picture of the alleged shooter.
Some say he was a loner, others say he was bullied, and yet another said TJ Lane was “gothic”.
By midday, officers investigating the shooting blocked off a road in a heavily wooded area several miles from the school. Federal agents patrolled the muddy driveway leading to several spacious homes and ponds, while other officers walked a snowy hillside.
There are mixed reports as to whether TJ Lane was enrolled at Chardon High School or whether he was just there while waiting to be transferred to Lake Academy Alternative School.
On their website, Chardon High School says that it handles students with a variety of issues, including “substance abuse /chemical dependency, anger issues, mental health issues, truancy, delinquency, difficulties with attention/organization, and academic deficiencies”.
According to Superintendent Maggie Lynch, the two males shot were both 17, and a third was 16.
A spokesman confirmed that one of the 17-year-old boys and an 18-year-old girl were both in stable conditions at Hilcrest Hospital.
Police say that TJ Lane is now in custody.
Authorities used a K-9 unit to track down the suspect, who was found about a half mile from the school, not far from his car.
Authorities initially believed the shooting was carried out by more than one gunman, though it was later discovered the student acted alone.
FBI officials confirm the believe that TJ Lane was allegedly the only person involved in the attack. They are currently doing a sweep of TJ Lane’s home and the surrounding area for any evidence that could be helpful in the investigation.
However, they will not speculate on the motive for the shootings.
Student Evan Erasmus told officials that the alleged shooter posted a message to Twitter that he was going to bring a gun with him to Chardon, but that no one took him seriously.
Others said that TJ Lane texted people in the days and weeks before the attack.
The FBI and local authorities are now searching the suspect’s house, which is being treated as a crime scene. They will be looking for any notes or additional evidence.
More than 1,100 students attend the high school, which is 30 miles east of Cleveland.
Superintendent Joseph Bergant II told WKYC that the culprit is in custody in a juvenile detention centre, but added that he didn’t know the extent of the students’ injuries.
District Community Coordinator Ellen Ondrey said the Chardon Police Department has the school on lockdown as they secure the area.
A local church is planning to hold a prayer vigil tonight in light of the shootings. Another will be held tomorrow night.
The service this evening will be held at First Baptist Church of Painsville, and is to be led by Rev Peter McCurdy, who was himself a victim of a shooting as a child, WKYC reported.
Grief counselors have also been made available to students as they come to terms with all that has happened today.
Chardon is a city of about 5,100 residents.
The full letter TJ Lane posted to Facebook
The following was reportedly posted by T.J. Lane on his Facebook page on December 20, 2011:
“In a time long since, a time of repent, The Renaissance. In a quaint lonely town, sits a man with a frown. No job. No family. No crown. His luck had run out. Lost and alone.
The streets were his home. His thoughts would solely consist of “why do we exist?” His only company to confide in was the vermin in the street. He longed for only one thing, the world to bow at his feet.
They too should feel his secret fear. The dismal drear. His pain had made him sincere.
He was better than the rest, all those ones he detests, within their castles, so vain. Selfish and conceited.
They couldn’t care less about the peasents they mistreated. They were in their own world, it was a joyous one too. That castle, she stood just to do all she could to keep the peasents at bay, not the enemy away.
They had no enemies in their filthy orgy. And in her, the castles every story, was just another chamber of Lucifer’s Laboratory. The world is a sandbox for all the wretched sinners.
They simply create what they want and make themselves the winners. But the true winner, he has nothing at all. Enduring the pain of waiting for that castle to fall. Through his good deeds, the rats and the fleas.
He will have for what he pleads, through the eradication of disease. So, to the castle he proceeds, like an ominous breeze through the trees. “Stay back!” The Guards screamed as they were thrown to their knees. “Oh God, have mercy, please!”
The castle, she gasped and then so imprisoned her breath, to the shallow confines of her fragile chest. I’m on the lamb but I ain’t no sheep. I am Death. And you have always been the sod. So repulsive and so odd.
You never even deserved the presence of God, and yet, I am here. Around your cradle I plod. Came on foot, without shod. How improper, how rude. However, they shall not mind the mud on my feet if there is blood on your sheet.
Now! Feel death, not just mocking you. Not just stalking you but inside of you. Wriggle and writhe. Feel smaller beneath my might. Seizure in the Pestilence that is my scythe. Die, all of you.”