Accused Seal Beach shooter faces charges, victims' families

SANTA ANA — The Huntington Beach man accused in the worst shooting rampage in Orange County appeared in court Friday, where he faced eight counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and the pained remarks of the victims' grieving family members.

The charges in Orange County Superior Court include special circumstances that could result in the death penalty, which Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is seeking.

The arraignment for Scott Evans Dekraai, who turned 42 Monday, at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana was postponed to Nov. 29. His defense attorney requested more time to prepare for the case and assemble a team.

Dekraai showed no signs of guilt or remorse. He gave one-word answers and stated his full name loudly and with clarity. Family members and friends appeared distraught, holding back and wiping tears.

"Coward!" one shouted.

"Scumbag!" said another.

One man held two photos of a family member he lost.

A woman shouted, "I hate you! I hate you!" repeatedly at Dekraai, just as Judge Erick L. Larsh dismissed court for the day.

Attorney Robert Curtis of Jarvis & Krieger appeared on Dekraai's behalf. The Long Beach-based family law firm represented Dekraai during his child custody battle with his ex-wife.

Jarvis & Krieger plans to assemble a defense team of attorneys from outside the firm, Curtis said. Dekraai chose not to use the aid of a public defender.

Davis asked Larsh to allow Dekraai to take his anti-psychotic medication and use a spinal cord stimulator that he has been using since his 2007 boating accident.

Larsh said he would have a team of doctors review Dekraai's condition and determine his needs.

Prosecutors expect an insanity defense.

Curtis said after court that he may file a change-of-venue motion to relocate Dekraai's case because he believes it could be hard for Dekraai to get a fair trial in Orange County.

Earlier in the day, in an emotional press conference, Rackauckas appeared shaken by the details and held back tears as he spoke.

"There are some crimes that are so depraved, so callous, so malignant, that there is only one punishment that will fit the crime," he said. "When a person, in a case such as this, goes on a rampage and kills innocent people in an indiscriminate, bloody massacre, I will, of course, seek the death penalty."

Prepared to commit murder, Dekraai walked into the Salon Meritage at 1:20 p.m. Oct. 12 with a bulletproof vest and three guns, Rackauckas said. He allegedly stopped to reload his gun amid the rampage.

"For almost two minutes, Dekraai shot victim after victim, executing eight people by shooting them in the head and chest," Rackauckas said. "He was not done. He then walked out of the salon and shot a ninth victim, a male, who was sitting nearby in a parked Range Rover."

Dekraai's ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, whom he was reportedly targeting following their bitter custody battle over their 8-year-old son, was among the first two killed.

Dekraai is known to have had a contact with Fournier the day of the shooting, although it was unclear who initiated the contact or if it was by phone.

Dekraai and Fournier had a custody hearing in court Oct. 11 — the day before the shooting — that did not go Dekraai's way, Rackauckas said.

Several months ago, Fournier called the Seal Beach Police Department to report a dispute about Dekraai picking their son up from school before the court had granted him permission, said acting Seal Beach Police Chief Tim Olson.

The case was forwarded to a family law court, Olson said.

All of the victims who died were shot multiple times in the head and chest. Some survived by hiding or playing dead.

About 20 people were in the salon when the attack began, Rackauckas said.

The motive of the rampage, Rackauckas said, was revenge.

Dekraai was not satisfied with killing only his ex-wife; instead, he went about killing others because he believed they were "enablers" and supporters of Fournier, the district attorney said.

During the incident, Dekraai's son was reportedly at his school principal's office waiting to be picked up. He is now staying with family members, according to the district attorney's office.

"That little boy is also a victim," Rackauckas said. "He is now left to mourn the murder of his mother, and grow up with the knowledge that his father committed a mass murder."

mona.shadia@latimes.com

Twitter: @MonaShadia

The Victims

Salon owner Randy Fannin, 62

Michelle Fournier, 48, Dekraai's ex-wife and a salon employee

Salon employee Victoria Buzzo, 54

Salon employee Laura Elody, 46

Salon employee Christy Lynn Wilson, 47

David Caouette, 64, who was nearby in his car

Lucia Kondas, 65, a salon client

Michele Fast, 47, a salon client

Harriet Stretz, 73, the lone survivor. Stretz is Elody's mother. She was there getting her hair done by her daughter.

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