SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — A 22-year-old Santa Monica College Library staff member recalled his near-death experience during a gunman’s deadly rampage last Friday.
John Zawahri killed five people, including his father and brother, during a shooting spree that started at his home on Yorkshire Avenue and ended up at the campus’ library.
Marcel Kahn said he was working when a woman ran in screaming.
“She shouted, ‘Run! He’s got a gun!’ he said.
Kahn said he immediately scrambled for cover.
“I ran to the nearest place and there were these two bathrooms where the staff go. It’s only for staff and they were locked,” he said.
Thankfully, Kahn found eight other library employees running to hide in a small room where a safe was stored.
“(Zawahri) told us while we were in the room, ‘I’m the police. It’s the police. Come out in five.’ And he started counting. ‘One…two…three…four…five.’ After a moment of silence, he started shooting. You could hear the semi-automatic rifle,” said Kahn.
Kahn said bullets pierced the wall, spraying plaster and debris everywhere.
“As the bullets hit the walls, you can feel it. And the sound, I remember my left ear going completely deaf. I texted my brother. I sent him a photo of me and I told him to tell my family, ‘This is the situation…and I love you very much,’” he said.
Within moments, Kahn heard more gunshots.
This time, however, it was police shooting and killing Zawahri.
Then, Kahn said, a campus police sergeant came to the door.
“The minute he opened the door, we just… you can imagine,” he said.
Kahn told KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen that last Friday was his final day on the job, and he was working on his farewell note to the library staff before the massacre.
Kahn said he would’ve left the library sooner if he didn’t spend time to pen the right heartfelt message.
“If it wasn’t for that, I would have walked out of the library exactly at (noon), and I would have confronted the gunman,” he said.