Records show past turmoil in California gunman's homeSANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — There were years of turmoil between the parents of a gunman who fatally shot five people in Santa Monica, and his mother once described his father as "verbally abusive and controlling," according to court records obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
By: AMY TAXIN,Associated Press TAMI ABDOLLAH,Associated Press , Associated Press
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — There were years of turmoil between the parents of a gunman who fatally shot five people in Santa Monica, and his mother once described his father as "verbally abusive and controlling," according to court records obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
In a 1998 request for a temporary restraining order, the mother of John Zawahri said that after the couple separated that year, her husband threatened to take their two young sons away to Canada and once punched her and stole her jewelry and purse.
Zawahri, 23, shot his 55-year-old father, Samir Zawahri, and 24-year-old brother, Christopher, and left their home in flames on Friday before opening fire on strangers in cars, a bus and on campus during a 15-minute rampage. Police said the former Santa Monica College student was heavily armed and carrying a duffel bag with 1,300 rounds of ammo when officers killed him in the campus library.
The school reopened on Monday for final examinations and for students who fled to recover backpacks, cars and other items left behind.
Extra security and counselors were on hand on the campus but the library remained closed.
A candlelight vigil was planned for Monday evening in front of the library.
Kelly Williams, 19, said she was nervous about coming to campus to take a psychology final but felt better once she saw a police car parked outside.
"It's kind of scary because it just happened and you don't know if it will happen again," she said.
Kurtis Takmura, 20, said he was driving to the campus on Friday to study for a history exam when he got a message from the school to stay away.
"I was like, wow, the second time already in the same semester," the Torrance resident said, recalling a similar message during a May incident involving a telephone threat.
Investigators were still trying to determine what prompted Zawahri's attack and whether he may have been mentally ill.
Zawahri's parents married in 1985. The elder Zawahri brought his family to the neighborhood of small homes and apartment buildings tucked up against Interstate 10 in the mid-1990s, according to property records.
When Zawahri was 9 years old, his now-separated mother sought a restraining order.
In the 1998 document, Randa Abdou said that she left Lebanon and joined her husband in the U.S. five years after their wedding and the couple "have had marital troubles ever since."
Her estranged husband had been "verbally abusive and controlling," she stated, adding that she was afraid he might do something "drastic because he seems to become increasingly angry and frustrated over our separation."
Abdou said her husband has "followed me, struck me, taken the children without telling me, and entered my apartment without my permission and removed photographs."
He once came to the apartment and told her that he was going to take the children to Canada, she said.
"The Defendant said that he would do anything to make my life miserable and that he could kill me and no restraining order can stop him," she said.
Her husband also waited for her at work once, and when she pulled up in a car with a friend he struck her in the arm, pulled her hair, took gold bracelets, her purse and unfiled divorce papers and told her: "If I had a gun it would be over," Abdou claimed.
She was afraid to press charges, she added. She asked the court to order the return of her property, including her green card, and to grant her custody of the couple's two sons pending a court hearing.
However, her request for a restraining order was dismissed when she missed the hearing.
Court records indicated that the parents sought divorce at least twice in the 1990s but they do not indicate whether a divorce ever was finalized.
Thomas O'Rourke, a neighbor of Samir Zawahri, said the couple did eventually divorce, with one son living with each parent.