The mother of a gunman who fatally shot five people before he was killed by police during a rampage in Santa Monica said her husband became abusive and once threatened, “If I had a gun it would be over,” court records said.
John Zawahri's mother, Randa Abdou, sought a restraining order in 1998 against her husband, Samir Zawahri, when she moved from Lebanon to join him in the United States, she wrote in court documents obtained by NBC4.
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John Zawahri, 23, shot his father and his brother on Friday, leaving their home in flames before shooting at motorists on city streets and others at Santa Monica College during a 15-minute rampage, police said. Three other people were fatally shot before police killed Zawahri in the campus library.
Investigators were trying to determine whether the family's problems played a role in the killings, which came Friday as Santa Monica College students were taking final exams and as President Barack Obama was three miles away at a fundraiser.
Samir Zawahri was “verbally abusive,” “controlling,” and “would do anything to make my life miserable,” Abdou wrote in papers filed May 1, 1998 in Los Angeles Superior Court. She said he threatened to take their sons to Canada.
He once waited for her at work, punched her in the arm and stole her jewelry, purse and uncompleted divorce papers, she said in court papers. He told her that if she got the police involved she would be sorry, court documents said.
“I declined to press charges because I am afraid of him and did not want to enrage him further,” she wrote.
Samir Zawahri filed for divorce in 1993, court records said, but it was never finalized and it was unclear if the couple ever divorced.
Abdou cut short a trip in Lebanon to return to Los Angeles on Sunday, according to the Associated Press. She said in a statement read by a neighbor on Monday that she was in mourning for her family and for those “affected by this horrific tragedy over the past few days."
In 2006, John Zawahri showed an interest in violence. He was 17 and a student at Olympic High School, a continuation school, when a teacher reported disturbing behavior from the teen during a discussion on weapons and violence.
“There was an incident a teacher reported where he had talked about violence and weapons and she was concerned," said Sandra Lyon, superintendent of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. "She then, of course, contacted the principle and the Santa Monica police department was contacted."
Santa Monica police confirm Zawahri was removed from the school and put under psychiatric lockdown.
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