Details emerged today about the escalating child custody battle between the suspect accused of going on a shooting rampage at a Seal Beach beauty salon and his ex-wife, who was among the eight people killed.
Scott Evans Dekraai, the lone suspect in the worst mass killing in Orange County history, is being held without bail. His ex-wife, hair stylist Michelle Marie Fournier, worked at the Salon Meritage, where the gunfire erupted about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday.
The names of all of the victims who were killed were released Thursday by Seal Beach police. They are the salon’s owner and Murrieta resident Randy Lee Fannin, 62, Victoria Ann Buzzo, 54, Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65, Laura Lee Elody, 46, Christy Lynn Wilson, 47, Michelle Marie Fournier, 48, Michelle Daschbach, 47, and David Caouette, 64.
The Huntington Beach man, who turns 42 on Monday, was arrested within minutes of the shooting at the salon, which is located in a shopping center at 500 Pacific Coast Highway. The massacre’s lone survivor remains in critical condition at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where two other victims — a man and woman — died on Wednesday afternoon. One man and five women were pronounced dead at the scene.
The Los Angeles Times identified the lone survivor as 73-year-old Hattie Stretz.
Capt. Tim Olson and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas will release more details Friday when charges are expected to be filed against the gunman.
Fournier and Dekraai had an 8-year-old son, Dominic.
Fournier’s attorney, John Cate Jr., told the Orange County Register that Dekraai and his ex-wife were in court the day before the shooting. Dekraai had been seeking sole custody of his son, but a court-ordered report recommended against it.
Cate issued a statement to KABC-7 news saying, Dekraai’s “demeanor throughout this case has been controlled and he never gave any indication that he housed the potential for such destruction and carnage. Michelle’s son, Dominic, is also a victim, and by one act of a desperate man has been deprived of both a mother and father.”
Court records paint a picture of a man who appeared to be increasingly troubled in recent years.
Dekraai was not allowed to have firearms and had to move out of the home of his stepfather, LeRoy J. Hinmon, in 2007 after the man complained that Dekraai attacked him, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Dekraai was also accused of attacking his stepfather in front of his son, who was 4 years old at the time, the Times reported, and was supposed to complete a 52-week batterer intervention program.
In 2007, Dekraai filed court documents complaining of “harassing and threatening” phone calls from his ex-wife, according to court records cited by the Times.
A Dec. 1, 2008, court order limited phone conversations between Dekraai and his ex-wife to once a week for 10 minutes and only on the topic of their child. There was an exception for emergencies.
She was prohibited from drinking alcohol while she had custody of the boy and the day prior to when she picked him up, according to the court records.
Dekraai’s former attorney, Don Eisenberg, said the two had a “typical” divorce, which was finalized on Dec. 28, 2007.
“This was not a remarkable case. It was a stipulated judgment and the parties agreed on these details,” Eisenberg said.
Under the shared custody agreement, Dekraai had the boy each week from Thursday through the weekend, and the mother had him Monday through Wednesday, the attorney said.
“It was almost an exactly equal split,” Eisenberg said. “The reason for that, I believe, was she worked as a hairdresser on weekends and those were her busy times, and it was based on their availability. There’s nothing in
(Eisenberg’s) file that indicates this was a problem divorce.”
Eisenberg only represented Dekraai one more time after the divorce was finalized, and that was on his effort to obtain a passport, the lawyer said.
Dekraai turned to another attorney to represent him in the child custody issues that arose later, Eisenberg said.
Dekraai and Fournier were married in Clark County, Nevada, early in 2003 and he filed for divorce in Los Angeles County in 2007, a month after a tugboat accident that causes him to walk with a limp and reportedly caused him to suffer from post-traumatic stress.
Dekraai’s neighbors expressed astonishment over what occurred, with one saying he is “one of the nicest neighbors ever” and several noting that he appeared dedicated to his son and often played with the boy on the lawn of the well-kept home he shares with his third wife.
According to neighbors, he had been honorably discharged from the military. Police said he was wearing a bullet-proof vest and had weapons in his truck, including the handgun he allegedly used to shoot the victims, when he was arrested about a half-mile from the salon.
Seal Beach police Sgt. Steve Bowles said victims were found “throughout the entire salon,” but “there are survivors from inside the salon that escaped without harm.”
“It appears that the salon was busy at the time and it appears almost every hair station, if you will, was occupied,” he said.
One victim was shot in or near his Range Rover outside the salon.