SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — The man suspected of killing five people and injuring five others in a shooting spree in Santa Monica Friday grew up in a home where domestic violence and abuse took place, according to documents obtained by CBS2.
Sources said suspected shooter John Zawahri had mental health problems that may have stemmed from his parents’ divorce.
In 1998 the suspect’s mother, Randa Abdou, filed a temporary restraining order against her husband in which she said she feared for her life and the lives of her children.
“He would do anything to make my life miserable and that he could kill me and no restraining order could stop him,” Abdou wrote.
Abdou quoted her husband as saying “if I had a gun it would be over.”
“The defendant has told me that life means nothing to him if we are not together,” Abdou wrote in the document.
The couple was separated at the time of the restraining order. They later divorced.
“He was a very withdrawn child, who was very quiet, hardly spoke at all,” said Wendy Parise, John Zawahri’s preschool teacher 20 years ago.
Parise told CBS2’s David Goldstein that the family’s struggles appeared to affect Zawahri as a young child.
“We were concerned for him, he was a little boy that was hard to reach in that way,” said Parise. “He seemed very traumatized by what was going on in his home.”
Parise said Zawari’s mother admitted that she was a victim of domestic violence.
“The mother claimed that the father was wielding a knife to her and her children” and was referred to a battered women’s shelter, according to Parise.
She said that Randa Abdou moved into the shelter with her son and divorced her husband shortly after.
In 2006, Zawahri was placed on a 72-hour mental health hold after allegedly making threats against other students at his high school.
Authorities searched his house at the time, though it was not clear if anything was found.