SEAL BEACH, Calif. — A gunman opened fire Wednesday in a busy Southern California hair salon, killing eight people and critically wounding another.
Seal Beach police Sgt. Steve Bowles said two of three victims who were transported to a hospital in critical condition died.
The other six victims died at the scene, where bodies lay scattered throughout the business in a normally sedate beach community.
Police arrested 42-year-old Scott Dekraai about a half-mile from the scene.
The gunman, got into a white truck and drove away from Salon Meritage, police said. The suspect surrendered without incident, Bowles said.
"We feel very confident we have the single and only suspect in custody," Bowles told NBC LA. "There may be something to the motive as to a relationship with somebody in the salon, that is our assumption."
Former salon staffer Lidia Sosa told reporters the gunman targeted his ex-wife, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported. Witnesses told police a custody dispute may have been behind the shootings.
Glenn Zachman, who owns a video news-gathering service, said he arrived at the scene of the arrest shortly after police and saw they had placed plastic bags over the man's hands to preserve possible gunshot residue.
He also saw a bulletproof vest on the back of a patrol car but didn't know if the man, dressed in a button-down shirt and pants, had been wearing it.
The suspect was cooperative when officers, working from a description of the shooter, stopped him near the salon, Bowles said.
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The man, in handcuffs, being placed in a patrol car and taken away about two-and-a-half hours after the shooting. A new white pickup truck that was believed to be his was parked on the modest residential street with its doors open.
Shortly after the alleged shooter 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. Neighbors identified photos of the alleged shooter as their neighbor Scott. The house is registered to Scott Dekraai, and one of the licensed cosmetologists at the salon address was Michelle Dekraai.
The salon was busy at the time, with every hair-dressing station in operation, when the gunman opened fire about 1:30 p.m., police said.
Six bodies were scattered throughout the salon along with the wounded, Bowles said. One wounded man was found outside the building. It wasn't clear if he was trying to flee when he was shot.
One of the victims was apparently the owner of the salon, Randy Fannin, a relative told the Los Angeles Times.
'People were seeking shelter'
One employee locked herself in the salon's facial room and was unharmed while another man locked himself in a bathroom but was wounded.
"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," Bowles told reporters at a news conference outside the business.
"From my observation, it did look like people were seeking shelter at the time," he said.
Kimberly Criswell, who owns a salon just two doors down from the scene of the shootings, 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.
Bowles didn't know what type of weapon was used or if the man used more than one. He may have been wearing body armor, police said.
"It just caught everyone off guard and people started running outside to see what was happening," Zach Benson told NBC LA. "It was a very bizarre scene."
Adrian Aragon, a nephew of a longtime employee at the salon, told the Los Angeles Times that he worried about his uncle's well-being. He said he has been unable to reach his uncle, Gordy Gallego, at home or on his cellphone.
"It's just going straight to voice mail," Aragon told the Times.
Relatives of victims were taken to a nearby spiritual center, NBC LA reported.
The killings stunned the normally quiet community of about 25,000 that boasts on its website that it has "retained its quaint, small-town atmosphere" since it was founded in 1915.
The city had one homicide last year and none during the previous three years, according to police statistics, the KNBC reported.
The worst mass-killing in Orange County's history was in 1976, when Edward Charles Allaway, at Cal State Fullerton, shot nine people and killed seven, The Orange County Register reported.
The community identifies itself as the Gateway to Southern California's Orange County and is about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
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. Two-thirds of the city's 13.23 square miles are occupied by the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge.
The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this story.