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US gunman kills 8 at hair salon

13 October 2011, 12:42

Los Angeles - Eight people were killed on Wednesday and one remained critical after a gunman opened fire in a packed hair salon in a small California beach town, in the latest deadly US shooting.

The suspected gunman, a white male said to be a custody battle with his ex-wife who worked there, was arrested a short time later about half a mile away from the Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, south of Los Angeles.

Local media reports said the gunman was ex-military, had multiple weapons and was wearing body armour at the time of the shooting. Police could not confirm this, but said he was arrested "without incident."

"He appeared co-operative, and did not resist our officers when he was detained," said Sergeant Steve Bowles, adding: "We do feel confident at this point that we do have the single and only suspect in custody."

Police initially responded to a 911 call reporting gunfire at the salon, in a strip mall just across from the ocean.

"Upon arrival we found six confirmed deceased people, along with three critically injured parties," two of whom later died from their injuries, said Seal Beach police spokesperson Bowles.


"The officers identified the (suspect's) vehicle as it was leaving the location," Bowles said. "They followed it and made a traffic stop and took the driver into custody."

Multiple weapons were found in his vehicle, he said, adding the motive for the shooting was still unclear.

The salon was packed at the time of the shooting, around lunchtime, with every hairdressing station apparently occupied, according to the police spokesperson.

"We're unsure at this point if he shot from the entrance and people as they were shot ran in seeking cover or seeking shelter, but we have fatalities throughout the salon."

Police were working on the assumption the gunman had some sort of connection to the salon. "We do not know what he said, or if he said anything at all during the shooting or what his relationship with this salon (was)," he said.

Lidia Sosa, a former employee at the salon, identified the shooter as "Scott" and said he had shot and killed his ex-wife, with whom he was in a custody battle.


The salon owner was among those killed in the attack, according to Sosa. "The only thing I can tell you is (he) is in heaven tonight," she told reporters at the scene.

A witness, Aria Lundeen, told how she looked out of her window to see the suspected gunman being arrested.

"They told him to put his hands behind his head, which he did, and he proceeded to calmly tell them that there were rifles in the front passenger side, I believe he said three," she told KCAL9 television.

"He said he had a knife in each pocket."

The shooting is the deadliest ever in Seal Beach, a small town of 25 000 people south of Los Angeles, said Bowles, calling the attack "unusual and tragic."

"A crime of this magnitude is something that Seal Beach is not familiar with," he said.

Multiple shootings are an all-too-familiar occurrence in the United States: only last week a gunman killed three people at a quarry in California's Silicon Valley, while three were also killed in Carson City, Nevada in September.



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