Alleged Seal Beach shooter visited H.B. body shop

At least two employees recognized the sullen customer when he came into Skill Craft Body Shop in Huntington Beach.

A porter remembered seeing him driving around town, his face partly obscured by a beard, baseball cap and sunglasses. A bookkeeper had spotted him at summer concerts in the park.

When the customer brought his wife's car in for service Sept. 29, he seemed in a particularly grim mood. The white Toyota Prius with an Angels' fan license plate, World Wildlife Federation stickers and a window sticker showing a happy family of three had a dent.

Another driver had run into him, he said, and he needed his front bumper fixed. When the porter brought back his repaired car Oct. 5 and handed him the keys, the customer refused to shake his hand.

A week later, the staff at the auto repair shop at 17072 Gothard St. watched the news about the massacre at the Salon Meritage in Seal Beach and recognized that face again: Scott Evans Dekraai, the suspect in the worst mass shooting in Orange County history, had brought his car in for service just days before the attack.

"With this customer, the only thing I felt about him was that he wasn't happy, not just because the car was damaged but maybe something else," said Lewis Bui, an estimator who met with Dekraai when he dropped off and picked up his car.

Bui and owner Ray Galvin said they did not remember if Dekraai said where the accident took place. Lt. Russell Reinhart of the Huntington Beach Police Department said he had no records of the incident.

According to Skill Craft staff, Dekraai was a first-time customer at the shop. He said the other driver was at fault and that he would use his Auto Club insurance to cover the damages. However, the repair cost proved to be smaller than Dekraai's deductible.

Porter Michael Farace said it's typical for customers to be less than jovial when they bring their cars in for repair. Usually, though, their mood lightens when they pick up the vehicles.

"It was a little off that he wasn't all smiles like a regular customer when they're picking up their car," Farace said.

Bookkeeper Terry Milner said her son-in-law told her he saw Dekraai cruising by McGaugh Elementary School, where his son attended, the morning of the shooting. The Seal Beach resident remembered seeing Dekraai around town in the past, at park concerts and possibly elsewhere.

What stuck out in Milner's mind was the vacant, distant look in Dekraai's eyes.

"They were, like, not all there," she said.

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

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