The mother of John Zawahri, who killed five people in a shooting spree across Santa Monica, Calif., on Friday, spoke to the press for the first time Monday. Zawahri’s mother, Randa Abdou, gave her statement to the Los Angeles Times through a third party and expressed her sadness at her son’s actions.
"As may be assumed, I am in mourning for my family and those who were also affected by this horrific tragedy over the past few days,” Abdou told the LA Times. “I cannot express my great sadness for the families who are also suffering at this terrible time. I do ask the media to please give me time to grieve and come to grips with the overwhelming sorrow. This has befallen all of us."
Several law enforcement officials and family friends have suggested that Zawahri was severely troubled due to a violent and abusive home background. The New York Daily News reports that his father Samir Zawahri was physically abusive. When his marriage to Abdou fell apart in 1998, Samir reportedly threatened to kill both his ex-wife and children.
Ultimately, Zawahri killed his father and brother Chris on Friday before killing three more people in a shooting spree at Santa Monica College. Zawahri was himself killed in a shootout with police in the college library.
Zawahri’s preschool teacher Wendy Parise told the LA Times that she remembers him as a young boy. She said Abdou once confided in her that her husband had held a knife to her throat and threatened killing her.
“There was tremendous violence in the home," Parise told the LA Times. "I was very concerned for this little boy and his mother. I can only imagine what this very quiet, withdrawn little boy was observing.... My heart just aches thinking about his life, all these years."
After his parents divorced, John Zawarhi lived with his father in their family home in Santa Monica, while Abdou moved to a new apartment about two miles away with Chris.
Also on Monday, officials at Santa Monica College identified a woman shot and killed by Zawahri as Margarita Gomez, a local woman who often came onto campus to collect recyclables. The NY Daily News reports that Gomez, who was believed to be in her 50s or 60s, was a popular and well-known figure on the Santa Monica College campus.
Before embarking on the shooting at Santa Monica College, Zawahri shot and killed his father and brother in their Santa Monica home, setting the house on fire. He then carjacked a woman and demanded he drive her to the Santa Monica College campus. His shootout at in the campus library lasted less than 15 minutes before he was shot and killed by responding police officers. In that time, Zawahri fired at an SUV, killing Carlos Navarro Franco, 68, and his daughter Marcela, 26. While firing back at police, Zawahri also shot and killed Gomez.