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Santa Monica shooting spree suspect identified as death toll climbs

Santa Monica Police Department via AP

John Zawahri, 23, who police have identified as the shooter in Friday's deadly rampage at Santa Monica College.

A fifth victim of the horrific shooting spree in Santa Monica, Calif., was confirmed dead Sunday as law enforcement officials revealed the name of the suspected gunman.

John Zawahri, 23, was identified by police as the heavily armed man who rampaged through a mile-long stretch of the coastal city Friday, dressed head to toe in black and carrying an AR-15 assault rifle as well as a duffel bag stuffed with as much as 1,800 rounds of ammunition, law enforcement officials said Sunday.

Zawahri is accused of gunning down five people near a community college campus, before being fatally shot himself by police.

The fifth victim, Marcela Dia Franco, 26 — who along with her father, Carlos Navarro Franco, 68, was fatally shot by the suspect as he stormed Santa Monica College —  was taken off life support at a West Los Angeles hospital Saturday night, the victim's family told NBC Los Angeles Sunday.

Law enforcement officials also confirmed that the two of the gunman's victims —  a pair found dead in a burning house fewer than 20 blocks away from the campus where the shooting spree came to a bloody climax — were Zawahri’s 55-year-old father, Samir, and 24-year-old brother, Christopher.

Zawahri, who was due to turn 24 on Saturday, allegedly murdered the two men before setting his father’s house ablaze just before 12 p.m. and fleeing the scene on foot, sources said.

Authorities are searching for answers as to why a gunman went on a deadly rampage at Santa Monica Community College on Friday, NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin reports.

As firefighters officials first arrived at the scene to extinguish the blaze, the gunman carjacked a vehicle being driven by an adult woman and threatened to murder her if she didn’t drive him to the nearby college campus, Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said Saturday.

The gunman demanded the woman stop at various points along the mile-long ride so he could fire indiscriminately at passing cars, police said.

He shot at a woman driving past the scene of the carjacking, wounding her, and later sprayed bullets at a public bus, shattering glass and injuring three people.

As they approached the SMC campus, the shooter fired at Carlos Navarro Franco while he sat behind the wheel of his SUV, which spun out of control and careened into a wall, according to Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office investigator Joyce Kato. Carlos, a groundskeeper at the school, died instantly.

His passenger, daughter Marcela, was transported to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in West Los Angeles, where she passed away Saturday night.

With police officers in pursuit, the gunman abandoned the shaken motorist and darted toward the library, shooting randomly.

One bullet struck and killed an unidentified adult woman in her 50s outside the library building, police said.

Amid the hail of gunfire, students scattered and took shelter in a provisional safe room, barricading the door with any available objects to keep the gunman away.

Officers arrived at the library shortly after noon and exchanged a volley of bullets with the suspect before wounding him. The injured suspect was then taken outside, where he was pronounced dead around 12:05 p.m.

Law-enforcement sources said Sunday that “open source postings” found online suggest that Zawahri suffered from emotional and psychological problems. They added, however, that there “was nothing found through open source searches that would indicate that Zawahri had subscribed to any extremist ideologies.”

The police chief said Saturday that law enforcement officials had an unspecified brush with the man seven years ago, but Seabrooks did not comment on the 2006 incident because he was a juvenile at the time.

Authorities in California have named 23-year-old John Samir Zawahri as the suspected shooter at a Santa Monica college earlier this week. MSNBC's Richard Lui reports.

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