California shooting rampage death toll rises to five

A police officer is seen by a bullet riddled car outside a home which was set on fire in Santa Monica, California, June 7, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A police officer is seen by a bullet-riddled car outside a home that was set on fire in Santa Monica, Calif., on Friday. Credit: Reuters

A college student shot during a gunman’s rampage in Santa Monica, Calif., died Sunday, the school said, two days after her father and three other people were killed in the same attack.

Marcela Dia Franco, 26, was one of the final victims of the gunman’s spree, which began Friday morning when he fatally shot his brother and father, and apparently set their house on fire, police said.

Police on Sunday formally released the identity of the suspected gunman as John Zawahri, 23. He was killed at Santa Monica College by police, ending the rampage on Friday, one day shy of his 24th birthday.

Police also named four of the five victims: Samir Zawahri, 55, the suspect’s father; Christopher Zawahri, 24, the suspect’s brother; Marcela Dia Franco, 26; and Carlos Franco, 68. A fifth victim, a woman fatally shot outside the college library, has not been officially identified.

After the fire at his family’s home, Zawahri hijacked a woman’s car, forcing her at gunpoint to drive toward Santa Monica College while he fired at people through the window, police said.

Franco was being driven by her father, Carlos Franco, to the college campus to pick up textbooks for her summer classes when the gunman shot at their sport utility vehicle. Carlos Franco, a groundskeeper at the college, died at the scene.

Marcela Franco was hospitalized at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in grave condition and died Sunday morning with family members at her side, Chui Tsang, the college’s president, said in a statement posted on the school’s website.

“Marcela had registered to attend classes this summer at SMC and was with her father Carlos when Friday’s tragedy struck,” he said.

The college said it established a memorial honoring the Franco family. A vigil is planned at Monday at 6 p.m. PDT in front of the library on the main campus.

Police on Sunday offered no further details of Zawahri’s living situation or personal history.

The Los Angeles Times cited law enforcement sources as saying the suspect was believed to have lived with his mother, had suffered from mental health problems and was angry over his parents’ divorce.

Santa Monica Police said the gunman was enrolled at the college, possibly along with a family member, as recently as 2010.

The gunman had “contact” with law enforcement in 2006, police have said, but would not give further details because he was a juvenile at the time.


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