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Santa Monica shooter said goodbye to friends in farewell note

John ZawahriFirearmsColleges and UniversitiesUnrest, Conflicts and WarBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

The gunman who killed five people during a shooting rampage through Santa Monica left a note saying goodbye to his friends and that he hoped his mother would be financially cared for, police said.

Police reportedly found the three-page note with the body of John Zawahri, 23, who was killed by police at the Santa Monica College library June 7.

In the note, Zawahri also expressed remorse for killing his father, Samir, 55, and his brother, Christopher, 25. Zawahri’s father died of multiple gunshot wounds and his brother died of a single gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Los Angeles County coroner. Their bodies were found inside the family home, which burned at the beginning of 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.

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.

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

Law enforcement sources told The Times on 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.

Sources said Zawahri fired about 100 rounds during the rampage, which lasted about 10 minutes. 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, Zawahri fired on other vehicles, including a sedan, a bus and a sport utility vehicle carrying Santa Monica College groundskeeper Carlos Franco, 68, and his daughter, Marcela, 26. Both died.

Police identified his last victim as Margarita Gomez, a 68-year-old visiting the campus to collect cans.

Sources said Zawahri suffered from mental problems and struggled with the divorce of his parents.

In 2006, an English teacher at Olympic High School in Santa Monica said he saw Zawahri surfing the Internet for assault weapons. Alarmed, he sent Zawahri to the principal's office. Within days, the police were involved and Zawahri was admitted to UCLA's psychiatric ward.

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