Video: Man held after salon shootings kill 8

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    >>> we begin with the deadly shooting rampage at a salon in seal beach , california. nbc's kristen dahlgren has the latest on this story. good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning, ann . this morning we are hearing stories about people running and hiding from the gunman inside the salon . police are releasing more information this morning about that alleged gunman and while they haven't released names of the eight victims killed, many in this close knit beach town knew him personally. outside the upscale salon a small community , shaken to its core.

    >> i think i've lost some friends in there, three of them, i think.

    >> reporter: cell phone video cap churpd ttured the panicked moments just moments after the bloody massacre as victims were wheeled out. for most victims though there was nothing rescue crews could do.

    >> when the woman came by, i know she was in the salon , it looked like she had gotten her hair colored red. i'm assuming that was blood.

    >> reporter: it was the middle of the day in the crowded salon when authorities say the gunman, in full body armor , carrying multiple weapons, opened fire.

    >> the only thing i saw was the police arriving and fire crews arriving and that's when we knew it was serious and to go back inside.

    >> reporter: police describe bodies scattered throughout the salon and another victim was found outside.

    >> there were nine reported injured, six of whom were deceased inside of the salon . three were transported to a local hospital. of those three, two of those three have seccumbed to their injuries at the hospital.

    >> on the way back to his car, he saw the gentleman who witnessed it so he shot him through the side window.

    >> police say a white truck seen leaving the scene led them to a suspect a half mile away. home video shows the suspect surrendering. police say they found multiple weapons in the truck. neighbors who recognized him are in shock.

    >> i looked online and i said, i know that guy and i looked at the truck and i said i know the truck. and my husband said, no that's not him. he said, he's talked to the man many times and he was saying how loving he is.

    >> reporter: overnight police identified the suspect as 42-year-old scott dekrai. workers and friends of the salon owner said his ex-wife was a stylist there.

    >> in the past i knew there was a lot of strife between the two of them.

    >> he has a little boy so now the little boy is without a mom or a dad.

    >> reporter: so many in this small town now without someone left trying to understand how the unthinkable could happen here.

    >> seal beach is a small, safe community . we don't experience these things ever.

    >> reporter: now, there was one female shooting victim still in critical condition . as for those killed there were six women and two men including the salon 's owner. in a statement this morning his family said they are still trying to understand their overwhelming loss, ann .

    >> nbc's kristen dahlgren, no kidding. understandable. thank you so much. for the latest on the investigation we're now joined by sergeant steve bowles of the seal beach police department . sergeant bowles , good morning.

    >> good morning, ann .

    >> your department has released the name of the suspect as we just heard scott evans dekrei and also a photograph. what can you tell us? we understand he is 42 years old.

    >> that is correct. he's a resident of huntington beach a city just south of seal beach .

    >> what more can you tell us about who he is and how long he has been in the community ?

    >> unfortunately i don't have all of that information at this point. the case is still under investigation. our detectives are still out at this hour of actually the late night/ early morning still continuing their investigation and interviewing witnesses. so i don't have any of that information at this time.

    >> can you confirm the report we just aired that friends and co-workers of the salon owner say the gunman was the ex-husband of a stylist who worked at the salon ?

    >> you know, i can't confirm any relationships right now. as the investigation is unfolding that is being determined based on interviews. we also don't truly understand the motive for the shooting at this point. because there were so many victims inside the salon we're just still unclear as to exactly what his motivation was.

    >> there were so many victims. about the woman who has been wounded and is still alive can you tell us the status of her condition?

    >> she is in critical condition . she seems to be doing better and we're definitely hoping for a recovery for her but she is in critical condition at one of our local hospitals.

    >> it's amazing so quickly after this shooting how many people have come forward to say that they remember this man as being such a good man, a nice man. there are some reports that they remember him being fit and endearing, would fish at the local water front and work the port docks. what can you tell us about what he might have said when he was arrested?

    >> you know, at the time he was seen leaving the area in a vehicle and the seal beach police officer stopped his car, ordered him out of the vehicle, and he was compliant and did not resist and did not provide any problems for our officers. he was taken into custody without incident. for our community in seal beach , this is absolutely one of the greatest tragedies that's ever happened here if not the greatest. and, you know, he does have friends it appears in our community . he has family in our community and our community certainly is reeling from the loss.

    >> meantime, we've been hearing this report from ap's reporting that dekraai and his ex-wife are battling for custody of their son who is i understand about 7 or 8 years old. do you know that boy, that son is in safe hands this morning? have you been monitoring that?

    >> i can tell you that without a doubt that all the children involved either of the victims or our suspect are being properly cared for this evening. again, i can't comment as to his motivation or relationship at this time based on trying to preserve the integrity of the case as it is currently unfolding.

    >> and obviously this is still in development and you certainly have been working very hard. sergeant steve bowles , thank you so much for taking a moment and talking to us this morning.

Image: People embrace near the scene of the deadly shooting.
Jonathan Alcorn  /  AFP - Getty Images
People gather near the scene of a deadly shooting at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, Cali on Wednesday.
NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 10/13/2011 9:42:49 AM ET 2011-10-13T13:42:49

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.

'Small-town atmosphere'
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.

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