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Santa Monica gunman wrote apology, was denied weapon by state

June 13, 2013|By Matt Stevens

Santa Monica police said Thursday night that the gunman who killed five people last week had been denied a firearm in 2011.

The revelation raises more questions about how John Zawahri got the semi-authomatic weapon he used in the attack.

Law enforcement sources told The Times Wednesday that the weapon was put together from various parts, possibly in an attempt to circumvent the state's restrictions on such guns.

While certain types of AR-15-style rifles are banned in California, it's legal to purchase parts that can be used to assemble and customize the guns. Santa Monica police have said Zawahri, 23, used an AR-15-style gun during the attack and was also carrying a .44-caliber handgun.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing, said detectives are still trying to figure out how the gun was put together and whether Zawahri obtained it whole or assembled it himself.

Zawahri killed five people last Friday in an attack that started at his father's home and ended at Santa Monica College, where police fatally wounded him in the school's library.

Sources said Wednesday that Zawahri fired about 100 rounds during the rampage, which lasted about 10 minutes. He fired at passing cars, a bus, pedestrians as well as police. Authorities have said he had access to more than 1,300 rounds of ammunition.

Santa Monica Police Department investigators, working with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the California Department of Justice, are now trying to trace where the parts came from.

Zawahri's rifle appeared to be modified so it could fire more rounds, the sources said. Police said he had 40 magazines capable of holding 30 rounds each during the rampage.

At a news conference Thursday night, police gave their most detailed account yet of how Zawahri made his way from his father’s home on Yorkshire Avenue to the Santa Monica College library, where he was fatally wounded by authorities last Friday. In all, he killed his father and brother at the home as well as three other people at Santa Monica College.

Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said police found replica weapons and zip guns during a search of the gunman's house. She also said the state Department of Justice denied him a firearm in 2011.

"He had an affinity for weapons," Sgt. Richard Lewis said.

He left a farewell note expressing remorse for killing his father and brother, police said Thursday evening.

He also wrote that he hoped his mother would be cared for financially and said goodbye to several friends, Santa Monica police said.


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