By The Associated Press
SEAL BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Police on Monday released 911 calls made in the chaotic and terrifying moments when a gunman barged into a hair salon and opened fire, killing eight people and leaving one wounded.
“I think a lot of people might have been killed or hurt,” one woman caller said in a muffled voice from her hiding place in Salon Meritage’s facial room last Wednesday.
Another woman called 911 while hiding behind a car in the parking lot.
“A gunman came in and killed a bunch of people. They’re all lying down on the floor,” she sobbed.
Scott Dekraai, the ex-husband of one of the salon workers, was quickly arrested nearby and charged with eight counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. The Orange County district attorney decided to seek the death penalty if Dekraai, 42, is convicted.
Some people managed to escape the salon and took refuge in nearby businesses.
In one 911 recording the caller can be heard asking someone else if the doors are locked. Cries and weeping can also be heard.
“And how many shots did you hear?” the emergency dispatcher asked.
“He’s still shooting right now. He’s still shooting right now,” the caller said.
“OK. And how many shots have you heard,” the dispatcher asked as someone interjected: “Oh my God.”
The caller went on to say she heard 10 shots.
“We need somebody here, like, right now,” the caller demanded.
“Do we know who the shooter is?” the dispatcher repeated.
“We think we do,” the caller answered. “It’s one of the hairstylist’s husbands. We think we do but I don’t know because the girl that came in here is just hysterical.”
Dekraai appeared in an Orange County courtroom on Friday, his shackles clanking as he walked. Relatives and friends of the victims shouted insults at him, with one sobbing woman screaming “I hate you.”
Dekraai is being held without bail. Defense attorney Robert Curtis said Dekraai wasn’t getting his anti-psychotic medication in jail — a statement that prompted prosecutors to say they wouldn’t be surprised to see an insanity defense.
Authorities say that after a final conversation with his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, that morning, Dekraai drove to the salon where he knew she would be working.
Eight people were shot inside the salon and only one survived, customer Harriet Stretz, 73. A man in a car in the parking lot outside was fatally shot as the gunman fled.
Police pulled over Dekraai a short distance away, and he surrendered without resisting.
Dekraai and Fournier split up in 2006 and divorced the following year. The two had joint custody of their son and had been involved in an increasingly acrimonious custody dispute since Dekraai asked a judge to grant him more time with the boy and change his school.
Both parents were in court the day before the shootings for a custody hearing that was continued until December. They had recently received a report from a court-appointed psychologist that recommended their custody arrangement remain the same, said John Cate, Fournier’s attorney in the custody dispute.
The report also urged the former couple to attend counseling to learn how to effectively co-parent, Cate said.