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Scott Evans DEKRAAI

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


The Seal Beach shooting
 
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Shooting spree - Argument with his wife over a custody dispute
Number of victims: 8
Date of murders: October 12, 2011
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1970
Victims profile: His ex wife Michelle Marie Fournier (48) / Victoria Buzzo (54) / David Caouette (64) / Randy Lee Fannin (62) / Michelle Daschbach Fast (47) / Lucia Bernice Kondas (65) / Laura Webb (46) / Christy Lynn Wilson (47)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Seal Beach, Orange County, California, USA
Status: In prison awaiting trial
 
 
 
 
 
 
photo gallery
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Seal Beach shooting was a mass shooting that 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.

Shooting

On Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 1:21 p.m. PDT (20:21 UTC), police responded to reports of shots fired at the Salon Meritage hair salon at 500 Pacific Coast Highway. The alleged 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 XD, a .45-caliber Heckler & Koch HK45, and a Smith & Wesson .44 magnum.

The alleged shooter's former wife, Michelle Fournier, one of the employees at the salon, was also 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 (0.8km) from the scene of the crime. Dekraai was wearing body armor at the time of his arrest.

The incident was the worst shooting spree 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. Sandi Fannin, the widow of the owner, stated that a remodeled version of the salon would open with the same name and in the same location during summer 2012.

Victims

The shooting left six women and two men dead, with a lone woman survivor:

  • 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."

  • Michelle 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

  • 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.

Sandy Fannin, co-owner of the salon and widow of the slain Randy Fannin, was on the premises at the time of the shooting but survived unharmed by hiding at the back of the property.

The suspect

Scott Evans Dekraai, 41, 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.

Prosecution

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 provisional start date for the trial has been given as October 15, 2012.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

Scott Dekraai pleads not guilty to Seal Beach salon killings

Family and friends of the eight people who were shot to death at Salon Meritage in October crowd the courtroom but remain quiet during the hearing. Scott Dekraai, the suspect in the killings, does not look at the crowd.

By Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times

January 19, 2012

The man accused in the largest mass murder in Orange County history pleaded not guilty Wednesday to shooting and killing eight people at a Seal Beach beauty salon, including his ex-wife.

Scott Evans Dekraai, wearing a mustard-yellow jumpsuit, his hands handcuffed in front of him, said nothing during his brief arraignment before a courtroom crowded with emotional family and friends of the victims of the Oct. 12 shooting spree at Salon Meritage.

Dekraai was kept behind a barrier during the hearing at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana and did not look at the crowd.

Dozens of family members and friends attended the hearing. In the hallway before the court was opened, there were hugs and tears.

Some wore pins with photos of loved ones. Some carried photos.

Before they could enter the courtroom, an Orange County sheriff's deputy warned them to have no outbursts, saying he knew there was much emotion tied to the case.

There was angry shouting at Dekraai's first court appearance in October, but the crowd was silent and teary-eyed Wednesday.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Dekraai, who was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on eight counts of murder with special circumstances and one felony count of attempted murder.

Dekraai pleaded not guilty in November at an earlier arraignment after the charges were first filed. Prosecutors have since opted to pursue a grand jury indictment — avoiding the need for a preliminary hearing — hoping to speed the process, Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said.

"What we want to do here is get this case to trial as soon as we can," Rackauckas told victims' family and friends outside the courtroom following the hearing.

Prosecutors hope to get the case to trial within a year, Rackauckas said.

Dekraai is accused of entering the salon wearing a bulletproof vest under his clothing and carrying multiple guns.

Dekraai's ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, worked in the salon, and Dekraai allegedly shot her before turning to other salon customers and employees and opening fire.

Court records show Dekraai and Fournier had been in a bitter custody battle over their 8-year-old son.

Fournier's brother, Craig Burk, attended Wednesday's hearing wearing a T-shirt with a blue heart bearing the words, "Support in Love Seal Beach."

Burk, who lives out of state, has attended all of Dekraai's court appearances and plans to keep doing so.

"The only way we can get through this is to be here," Burk said.

Paul Wilson wore four buttons with photographs of his wife, Christy Wilson, who was killed in the shooting. On one, she is pictured smiling, holding her 2-year-old granddaughter, Madisyn.

As he left the courtroom, Wilson had tears in his eyes and clutched a framed photo of Christy and him, dressed up to go to a Christmas party.

 
 

DA seeks death penalty in salon murders

SunNews.org

October 14, 2011

The Orange County District Attorney announced Friday, Oct. 14, that he will seek the death penalty against a man charged with committing the largest mass-murder in Orange County history. The Seal Beach Police Department investigated this case.

Scott Evan Dekraai, 41, Huntington Beach, is charged with eight felony counts of special circumstances murder for committing multiple murders and one felony count of attempted murder. He is being held without bail. He is being held without bail and is scheduled to appear in court for a continued arraignment, Nov. 29, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

"There are some crimes that are so depraved, so callous, so malignant, that there is only one punishment that will fit the crime. When a person, in a case such as this, goes on a rampage and kills innocent people in an indiscriminate bloody massacre, I will seek the death penalty," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. "The circumstances of this case are so terrible and incomprehensible that the aggravating factors overwhelm any possible mitigation."

"The murders that occurred on October 12 are by far the most horrific tragedy in our city's history. This incident will forever impact the lives of so many of us, who live, work and visit our great community," said Seal Beach Acting Chief of Police Tim Olson. "I am proud of the swift and effective action of the men and women of the Seal Beach Police Department as well as the assistance we received from so many of our law enforcement partners, for which we are grateful."

Death Penalty Decision

In the majority of special circumstances murder cases, the District Attorney convenes a special circumstances committee consisting of the District Attorney, the Senior Assistant and Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Homicide Unit, and other prosecutors experienced in capital cases after an indictment or preliminary hearing. The committee discusses the defendant's record, the nature of the crime, and the vulnerability of the victim, among other factors.  The committee also considers mitigating circumstances from the defense attorney.  The final decision to pursue the death penalty rests on the District Attorney. 

In certain extreme cases, such as mass murders, the District Attorney may decide to seek the death penalty without the necessity of a special circumstances committee. The aggravating circumstances in these cases far outweigh any possible mitigating circumstances.

Based on the violent and indiscriminate nature of this crime, the District Attorney determined that the committee was unnecessary in his decision to seek the death penalty.

Circumstances of the Crime

On the morning of Oct. 12, 2011, Dekraai is accused of getting into a verbal argument on the phone with his ex-wife, 48-year-old Michelle Marie Fournier, over a custody dispute regarding their 8-year-old son.

At approximately 1:20 p.m. on Oct. 12, 2011, Dekraai is accused of entering Salon Meritage, located on the 500 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Seal Beach, where his ex-wife worked as a hair stylist. The defendant is accused of wearing a bullet-proof vest under his clothing and arming himself with three firearms before walking into the salon with the intention of murdering his ex-wife and other people who may have been present. Approximately 15 people were inside at the time.

At 1:21 p.m. Dekraai is accused of walking through the salon and executing employees and customers at random, as well as Fournier, by shooting them at close range in the head and chest. The firearms included a 9 MM Springfield, Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum, and a Heckler & Koch .45.

He is accused of shooting several of the victims multiple times using two of the firearms as they lay dying, stopping to reload when his ammunition ran out. The shooting lasted approximately two minutes.

The other people inside the salon attempted to escape by hiding, locking themselves in private treatment rooms, or running outside. Dekraai is accused of shooting eight people inside the salon.

Six of the eight victims inside the salon were pronounced dead at the scene. The two other victims were transported to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in critical condition. One of those victims died that afternoon at the hospital. The eighth victim remains in critical condition.

The seven murdered victims from inside the salon include (in alphabetical order): Victoria Ann Buzzo, 54, Laguna Beach, salon employee; Laura Lee Elody, 46, Huntington Beach, salon employee; Randy Lee Fannin, 62, Murrieta, salon owner; Michele Daschbach Fast, 47, Seal Beach, salon employee; Michelle Marie Fournier, 48, Los Alamitos, salon employee; Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65, Huntington Beach, salon client; and Christy Lynn Wilson, 47, Lakewood, salon employee.

Victim Harriet Stretz, 73, Los Alamitos, is in critical condition. She was a salon client having her hair done by her daughter, victim Elody.

After his murderous shooting rampage inside the salon, Dekraai is accused of walking out of the salon. As he approached his white Toyota Tundra pick-up truck to flee the scene, the defendant is accused of observing a dark sport utility vehicle parked nearby with a male seated in the driver's seat. Dekraai is accused of approaching the victim, who was alone in his car, and executing him by shooting him in the head through the closed front passenger side window.

This victim was David Caouette, 64, Seal Beach.

An SBPD officer, who was nearby in the neighborhood, was the first to arrive at the scene in response to a 911 call from a person in the restaurant next door to the salon. Witnesses pointed the officer to the defendant's vehicle as Dekraai attempted to drive away.

SBPD dispatch received information from the 911 caller at 1:25:36 p.m. that the defendant was driving away from the scene. At 1:26:07 p.m., only 30 seconds later, the defendant was stopped by SBPD in an emergency traffic stop.

Officers from SBPD yelled for the defendant to exit his vehicle with their guns drawn. Dekraai is accused of getting out of his car, getting down on his knees, placing his hands behind his head, and was arrested.  At the time of his arrest, Dekraai is accused of being in possession of the three firearms and a significant amount of ammunition in his truck.

Dekraai was booked at the Seal Beach City Jail and was later transported to the Orange County Jail.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Randy Litwin at (714) 347-8492 or SBPD Detective Gary Krogman at (562) 799-4100 ext.1108.

The OCDA and SBPD would like to thank the following law enforcement agencies for their response to the scene and assistance in the investigation: Anaheim Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, California Highway Patrol, Cypress Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Huntington Beach Fire Department, Huntington Beach Police Department, La Palma Police Department, Long Beach Police Department, Los Alamitos Police Department, OCDA Bureau of Investigation, Orange County Fire Authority, Orange County Sheriff's Department, and Westminster Police Department.

 
 

Boat accident haunted Seal Beach shooting suspect

By Doug Irvin - The Orange County Register

October 13, 2011

SEAL BEACH – The lone suspect in the deadliest shooting in Orange County history spent the past several years in pain, haunted and hobbled by a gruesome boat accident that left him unable to work.

Scott Dekraai, 41, also spent those years fighting his ex-wife, a stylist at Salon Meritage, for custody of their young son. They were in court together for a routine hearing less than 24 hours before the shooting, and colleagues have speculated that she was the target of the gunfire at the salon that left eight dead.

Dekraai was being held without bail on suspicion of murder. A long-time friend said the doughy man he saw being led away in handcuffs in news photographs bore little resemblance to the fit and fun-loving outdoorsman he once knew.

Friends called him Scotty, a swimmer, surfer and sport fisherman who grew up in Long Beach and followed his fisherman grandfather onto the water. He worked for years as a crewman on fishing charters, and was so popular that groups often asked if he would be aboard, said Don Ashley, owner of Pierpoint Landing Sportfishing.

Dekraai later worked on Catalina Express boats, Ashley said, and then moved on to tugboats. He was studying to get his tugboat captain's license when a freak accident ended his career in 2007.

A tow cable pinned a fellow crewman against a railing, killing her as Dekraai rushed to help, according to accounts of the accident. The cable then ripped across Dekraai's leg, almost severing it, Ashley said. Later, the pain from the nerve damage was so intense that Dekraai couldn't sit in a chair long enough to work even a desk job, Ashley said.

The injury marked a turning point in Dekraai's life, records suggest. Within a month, he had filed for divorce from his wife of four years, touching off a vicious custody battle that dragged into the day she died. His step-father took out a restraining order against him, and court records allege that Dekraai had attacked him.

Dekraai's ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, said in court documents that he was physically abusive and displayed the manic mood swings of bipolar disorder. She confided in a close friend, Sharyn White of Seal Beach, that he had twice threatened to kill her – once saying he would shoot her at the salon, White said.

A psychiatrist wrote in the divorce court file that Dekraai suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from the tugboat accident. Ashley said Dekraai would replay the accident in his mind, and suffered from nightmares.

"He was always a big, healthy, outdoorsy person," Ashley said. "Since he had this terrible accident, he hasn't been able to do anything outdoorsy." The injury, he added, "was very, very ugly, both mentally and physically."

Dekraai filed a personal-injury lawsuit against the tugboat company, Foss, in early 2010, records show. His attorney, Brian Magana, said he was seeking payment for lost wages, future medical expenses and pain and suffering. The company settled a month later, records show, but Magana said the terms of that settlement were confidential.

Dekraai has lived at least since 2008 in a single-story gray house on Melody Lane in Huntington Beach. He remarried about two years ago. An attorney for his ex-wife said he had been seeking full custody of their son, but a court-ordered review had recently recommended against that.

Neighbors described Dekraai as a friendly and doting father who they often saw outside playing ball with his son or walking his dog. Several said he blamed his ex-wife for their divorce and claimed it stemmed from his tugboat accident.

"My heart really goes out to his son," neighbor Mark Rivera said. "He's a really cute little boy. I'm just thinking, I don't know what's going to happen to him from this point forward.

 
 

'He lived for his son': Gunman 'shot dead eight in beauty salon massacre to get back at hairdresser wife over custody battle'

  • Ex-military Scott Dekraai in custody after allegedly going on shooting spree

  • Happened at hair salon in Orange County, California, where ex-wife worked

  • Thought to have lost custody court case over son the day before shooting

  • Ex-wife Michelle previously alleged he was unstable and physically abusive

  • Eight dead, including wife Michelle, in worst mass murder in O.C. history

  • Dead owner Randy Fannin 'confronted him before being told to "shut up"'

  • 73-year-old woman among those seriously injured in quiet area of California

  • Only one other murder in last five years where actress Sandra Bullock lives

  • Witnesses describe smell of gunpowder and 'eerie silence' after shooting

By Paul Bentley, David Gardner and Mark Duell

DailyMail.co.uk

October 13, 2011

A crazed gunman who shot dead eight people in an upmarket beauty salon in California allegedly went on the rampage after losing a custody battle over his son.

Scott Dekraai the ex-husband of one of the stylists, allegedly shot nine hairdressers and customers at Salon Meritage, just blocks from the Pacific Ocean in the upscale seaside resort of Seal Beach.

His ex-wife, Michelle, is also reportedly among those killed. Dekraai, 42, who used to serve in the military, is said to have threatened violence after losing a court case against her over their child.

The battle with Michelle Fournier Dekraai was over the custody of their seven-year-old son, Dominic. She claimed in court filings that he was unstable and physically abusive to her in their marriage.

Three people, including a 73-year-old retired nurse called Hattie Stretz, were initially rushed to hospital in critical condition. Ms Stretz's condition is improving, reported the Los Angeles Times, but the other two have since passed away.

Ms Stretz's daughter Laura Webb was reportedly among those killed. One of the other victims is thought to be the salon owner, Randy Fannin.

In all, one man and five women died at the salon; one man and one woman died after being transported to a nearby hospital; and one woman - Ms Stretz - was seriously injured.

Local youth soccer team Beach Futbol Club identified a fourth victim - after Ms Fournier Dekraai, Ms Webb and Mr Fannin - as Michelle Fast, who is a mother of a player. The identities of the other four victims are not yet known.

The Orange County Register identified the fifth, sixth and seventh victims on Thursday night as Victoria Buzzo, Dave Caouette and Kristy Wilson The eighth victim is still not yet identified.

Orange County authorities rushed to the scene and seized Dekraai in a traffic stop a half-mile from the shooting on Wednesday.

The alleged shooter, who lives locally, was thought to have been wearing body armour during the attack. When officers raided his car they found multiple weapons, police said.

He didn't offer any resistance when arrested and police would not confirm any relationship between the man and any of his victims.

Seal Beach Police Sergeant Steve Bowles said: 'We believe he is the only shooter. He was taken into custody without injury.'

As the town struggled to come to terms with the shocking killing spree, witnesses said the gunman was embroiled in a domestic dispute over custody with his ex-wife who worked as a stylist at the salon.

Jake Rennison, 17, told the Orange County Register that Scott had once asked him to teach his son to skateboard. He added: 'He was totally devoted to his son. Totally.

'I can't believe this happened. The only thing I can imagine is with the custody battle. His son was his life.'

Dekraai is said to have moved to the area two years ago after being honourably discharged from the military because of a work-related leg injury.

'There are victims throughout the entire salon,' Sergeant Bowles added.

'There are survivors from inside the salon. A crime of this magnitude is not something Seal Beach is familiar with.'

The shooting is reportedly the deadliest mass killing in Orange County history. Among the victims is thought to be the owner of the salon

Randy Fannin died in the shooting, according to his niece, Tami Scarcella, 39. 'Randy is dead,' she said while hugging a friend. 'Randy is dead for sure.'

Kimberly Criswell, who owns a salon just two doors away, said she and her customers and employees heard gunshots, and her receptionist saw a man through a window as he was shot in a parking lot.

'There was like a pop, pop and my receptionist screamed, "he just shot that man" and we all ran into the bathroom and locked the door,' Criswell said.

A middle-aged woman called Cindy was having her hair done by Mr Fannin when the gunman opened fire. 'We thought it was maybe firecrackers,' she told the Los Angeles Times.

'But he just didn’t stop. Anybody he saw he was shooting. It went boom, boom, boom. I was afraid he was going to shoot everybody.'

Mr Fannin allegedly confronted the gunman before being told to 'shut up' as he continued firing.

'I could still smell gunpowder in the air,' witness Riley Riggs, 27, told the Los Angeles Times, adding that the gunshots were followed by an 'eerie silence' for several minutes.

Zach Benson said patrons at the restaurant where he works ran outside when the shooting began. It just caught everyone off guard,' he told NBC Los Angeles. 'It was a very bizarre scene.'

Shortly after he was arrested, police arrived at a house on Melody Lane in nearby Huntington Beach and escorted two women to a white car and then roped off the house with crime scene tape.

Neighbours identified photos of the alleged shooter as their neighbour Scott. The house is registered to Scott Dekraai, and one of the licensed cosmetologists at the salon was Michelle Dekraai.

Kari Salveson of Los Alamitos, who attended a service for the victims at SeaCoast Grace Church in Seal Beach, said she had known Michelle Dekraai for several years.

She said she was aware that she and her ex-husband were involved in a bitter custody dispute over their son. Ms Salveson added Michelle Dekraai made her every visit to the salon special.

'She could gab away. She was one of those girlfriends you could never get enough of. She made you smile and she made you laugh,' Salveson said.

Several people who knew Michelle Dekaai also said she sometimes went by her maiden name of Huff and it was unclear which one she was currently using.

The one remaining injured victim is being treated at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.

Some of those inside managed to escape without harm, police said. Sergeant Bowles said the bodies of the killed and the wounded were scattered throughout the salon.

One wounded man was found outside the building. It wasn't clear if he was trying to flee when he was shot.

'We're unsure at this point if he shot from the entrance and people, as they were shot, ran in seeking cover or seeking shelter, but we have fatalities throughout the salon,' he said.

'From my observation, it did look like people were seeking shelter at the time.'

He said the salon was busy, with every hair-dressing station in operation.

Salon employee Lorainne Bruielle, who wasn't working on Wednesday, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram the gunman was the husband of another employee.

Ms Bruielle said she talked to the husband of one of the employees involved, who said one employee locked herself in the salon's facial room and was unharmed while another man locked himself in a bathroom but was wounded.

The shooter was spotted fleeing from the scene when police arrived and gave himself up after a short car chase.

Lydia Sosa, who used to work at the salon, said the suspect had gone through a bitter divorce with one of the women who worked there.

'They were never happy for a long, long time,' she told the New York Times. 'She said he was bitter. He was very bitter.'

A local man named Bill Horton added: '(It was a) custody battle for seven-year-old son. Ex-Husband lost court case yesterday. Apparently he had been making threats of violence.'

One of her neighbour's told KTLA she took out a restraining order against her former husband on Tuesday.

Another neighbour, Jo Cornhall, added: 'I know there was a custody battle involved with his son, Dominic, who I believe is 7 or 8 years old.'

Dekraai, who worked on tugboats after being discharged by the military, is said to have walked with a limp after a boat accident.

He allegedly remarried Mindy Miguel, his rehab nurse.

She is currently assisting detectives with their investigations, according to neighbours.

Workers in neighbouring businesses said they hid in the bathrooms after hearing shots.

One woman said she was working at a nail salon and hid with about six other people for 15 minutes until they heard the gunman was caught.

The three people who were not killed instantly were rushed to hospital in critical condition.

Patients at the hospital said the victims were rushed inside in a horrific state.

'They were bringing them in, and they were all bloodied up,' Biagio Zaby, 67, told the Times.

'One got shot in the face. One got shot in the chest. They took one in for a CAT scan. They said "Code Blue," which is not a good deal.'

The shooting happened at about 1.30pm today. Those hit included hair salon employees and customers.

Police had the murder scene roped off last night.

The quiet beachfront city of approximately 25,000 residents identifies itself as the Gateway to Southern California's Orange County and is located about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Among its famous residents are 'Miss Congeniality' film star Sandra Bullock.

It is home to Leisure World, a gated senior citizen community of 9,000 people, as well as the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station military complex.

The city had just one homicide last year and none during the previous three years, according to statistics compiled by the Police Department.

Regulars at the salon reacted in horror when they heard about the shooting.

Kalie Ann wrote on Twitter: 'I go to Salon Meritage all the time and I was just there last Thursday. I can't believe something so horrible happened there.'