LA Times Emphasizes 'Fascination with Guns,' not Mental Illness, in Santa Monica Shooting

LA Times Emphasizes 'Fascination with Guns,' not Mental Illness, in Santa Monica Shooting

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the 24-year-old Santa Monica shooter had a history of mental illness but leads a June 9 story with the claim of an “unnamed source” who said that the killer had a “fascination with guns.”

In the Times report the story about killer John Zawahri leads with two paragraphs detailing the claims of this unnamed source, but the spends many more paragraphs discussing his mental health problems and run-ins with the law.

It is interesting that the paper leads with this claim when there is far more evidence of Zawahri’s run-ins with the police in the past, his reputation as a young man with an explosive temper, and his undefined mental problems.

Yet the paper quotes an unnamed person said to be familiar with the murderer and his family who feels he had “a fascination with guns.” This unnamed person also claims that many people were worried about Zawahri’s gun fixation and also wondered where he got the money for the firearms.

But the Times finds that Zawahri had a history of emotional problems. He was upset over his parents divorce and police had been called to his family home in 2006 over an incident of domestic violence.

Santa Monica police chief Jacqueline Seabrooks confirmed that the department had at least one incident with Zawahri but refused to divulge details because he was a minor at the time of the incident.

On Friday afternoon, Zawahri killed his father and brother–Samir Zawahri, 55, and Chris, 25–set their home ablaze, then forced a woman to drive him around as he shot at people. He ended up at Santa Monica College where he attempted to shoot more people. Ultimately, police killed the shooter the the school library.

Randa Abdou, Zawahri’s mother, is currently overseas in Lebanon, the shooter’s parent’s place of origin, and police have had trouble getting in contact with her.

Police also report that Abdou had filed domestic abuse charges in 1993 and 1998 against the shooter’s father, Samir Zawahri. The pair are divorced.

The family has been residents of Santa Monica since 2000.

Finally, in a separate story, the “fascination” as part of the story is left for a last paragraph and treated as far more incidental.