Gunman identified, previous SMC student
The gunman who went on a shooting rampage through Santa Monica Friday afternoon has been identified as John Zawahri, who was confirmed as a former Santa Monica College student. Armed with a .223 rifle, a handgun, and enough ammunition capable of firing 1300 rounds, the gunman was taken down in the SMC library by three officers, one from the SMCPD and two from the Santa Monica Police Department.
Saturday would have been Zawahri's 24th birthday.
From the moment police received calls of gunshots to the time the gunman made it to SMC and was ultimately killed lasted from 11:52 a.m. to about 12:05 p.m., SMPD Sgt. Richard Lewis said at a press conference Saturday afternoon.
Zawahri's shooting rampage began at Yorkshire and Kansas, where he shot a woman in a car and proceeded to carjack another woman's vehicle. He instructed the woman to drive him to SMC. He next fired shots at a Big Blue Bus, which injured a woman when the shot grazed her head.
Shooting at cars and people along the way, he then made his way to the SMC campus, where he entered the library where students were studying for final exams, and fired 70 rounds before being taken down by police, Lewis said.
Police offered few new details as to the identity of the suspected gunman and only released the name of one of the victims, Carlos Navarro Franco, an SMC employee. Franco was pulling out onto Pearl Street in his red Ford Explorer by the SMC staff parking lot when he was shot by the gunman.
The rest of the victims’ names are being withheld pending notification of the next of kin. So far, there are five dead, including the gunman.
SMC’s main campus remains closed through the weekend as the investigation into Friday's shooting rampage continues. The college will reopen Monday, June 10 at 7 a.m., said Santa Monica College Police Department Chief Albert Vasquez.
“All final exams will take place on Monday as scheduled,” said Vasquez.
Vasquez also said that police are hoping to begin escorting students and staff back onto campus by Saturday evening to reunite with vehicles left behind as the evacuations took place, and by Sunday morning to retrieve any personal belongings.
Police revealed that the gunman had been a student at SMC as recently as 2010, and that they had prior contact with him in 2006 when he was a juvenile, although they would not elaborate as to what that prior contact was about.
SMPD Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said investigators believe that the gunman’s remaining family may be out of the country at this time.
Calling the gunman a “cowardly murderer,” Seabrooks said the shooting may have been premeditated.
“I would presume that when anybody 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’s premeditated,” Seabrooks said.
Whether or not he planned to go to SMC in particular was unknown at the time.
Counseling is available at the SMC Bundy Campus all weekend from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will resume at the main campus on Monday.