Janet Kwak, Lori Bentley
Five months after a shooting rampage at the Salon Meritage in Seal Beach killed eight people, that salon is being remodeled. The inside is being given a whole new look, and perhaps a new beginning for the people effected by the shooting. Janet Kwak reports.
Crews are gutting the Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, giving it a massive makeover almost six months after a gunman walked into the salon and killed eight people in the largest mass murder in Orange County history.
"I still have this exaggerated, startled response," said shooting witness Jan Emery.
She was just next door when a gunman opened fire at Salon Meritage in October. Emery was waiting for friend Michelle Fournier, a stylist at the salon.
"I was waiting for Michelle, the victim, the guy's wife to come and have lunch with me," Emery said. "She said I will be right back."
Fournier was among those killed. Her ex-husband, Scott Dekraai, is charged with the slayings.
Almost six months later, gutted sinks and chairs are haunting reminders of that devastating day. But Josh Muller is taking the first swing at tearing those memories down.
"It reminds me of a very tragic day, but I also get chills of excitement," says Muller, owner of Kustum Kunstrukshun. "I get chills that we're going to bring this back to life"
And new life comes with a new layout. Everything inside the salon will change but the name.
"The windows are changing, the tiles changing, the ceilings are being raised up," according to Muller.
Church leaders have even visited the site, to replace pain with spiritual blessing.
"We always will remember what happened here, but we also will honor the ones who passed on," says Rev. Peggy Price of the Center of Spiritual Living.
"I'm not going to let this incident define me," says Emery.
The same resilience is captured on a sign just outside the salon. It reads: "If there ever comes a day when we can't be together. Keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever."
"It's a wonderful sign that life goes on, and I think it's also a great sign to say that we do not let this defeat us," says Rev. Price.
Some employees are also expected to return to work after the grand re-opening this summer.
Dekraai's jury trial has tentatively been scheduled for Oct. 15. The Huntington Beach man was indicted on eight counts of murder with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders on Jan.18. He was also indicted on attempted murder.
Dekraai is accused of opening fire in Salon Meritage on Oct. 12 in Seal Beach, and killing eight people. Those killed in the shooting, included Dekraai's ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, 48; salon's owner Randy Lee Fannin, 62; Victoria Ann Buzzo, 54; Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65; Laura Lee Elody, 46; Christy Lynn Wilson, 47; Michelle Daschbach Fast, 47; and David Caouette, 64.
Hattie Stretz, 73, was also shot, but survived. Dekraai remains in custody without bail.