Workers and customers at Salon Meritage try to create an atmosphere of good memories on the anniversary of the tragic Seal Beach shooting massacre that occurred four years ago Monday, marking the worst mass killing Orange County had ever seen.
Though they describe the horrific shooting by Scott Evans Dekraai as a moment four years cannot erase, they keep the memories of those who were killed alive.
"Lots of flashbacks, and nightmares too," said Victoria Elvidge, friend of those who were murdered.
It was in 2011 that Dekraai opened fire in Salon Meritage killing eight people, including his former wife.
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Customers, stylists and random people in the parking lot were shot. Dekraai was in custody within minutes, and later pleaded guilty to the shooting.
Court documents later alleged that Dekraai knew “exactly what he was doing.” He also allegedly told police that he plotted the slayings before carrying them out.
Paul Wilson, whose wife Christy died in the massacre, came back to the city to honor her memory.
"Time heals," Wilson said. "Day to day going on, you learn to move on but this day always throws you back and puts the brakes on."
Wilson keeps his wife’s ashes near him, he said.
Bethany Webb spoke to NBC4, and her sister was killed in the shooting. Her mother was also shot, but survived.
“This is the day where he changed so many lives — thousands of lives — forever,” Webb said.
Webb also said Dekraai should not be put to death for the murder.
“You murdered my sister now I get to murder you?” Webb asked. “That makes me him. I reject that. I reject the premise that two wrongs make a right.”
Wilson argued that death would be just.
"Unfortunately that's not the case,” Wilson said. “It's just a big word for life imprisonment without parole."
Dekraai’s penalty has not been decided yet due to a conflict of interest.
Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals removed the district attorney's office off the case of after finding sheriff's deputies on the prosecution team lied or withheld evidence during a hearing on the use of jailhouse informants.
Despite disagreements over Dekraai’s penalty, the community came together to remember the love and laughter that once filled the salon.