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Santa Monica gunman was mentally evaluated

Posted: June 12, 2013 7:00 a.m.
Updated: June 12, 2013 7:00 a.m.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Santa Monica gunman who killed five people last week was hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation in 2006 after police found bomb-making materials at his home.

Police searched the house where John Zawahri lived with his father after the teen made repeated violent threats against students, teachers and campus security officers at Olympic High School, retired police officer Cristina Coria, who helped execute the search warrant, said Tuesday.

Coria said she didn't know what was found at the house or the outcome of that mental evaluation.

Oscar de la Torre, a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified school board, told The Associated Press that police had discovered bomb-making materials at the home.

The school board was briefed by school administrators after police found Zawahri was learning to make explosives by downloading instructions from YouTube, de la Torre said.

"It was some type of devices or materials that would be able to make explosives, and the word 'pipe bombs' was what was referred to," he said. "If it was guns and stuff like that it would have been more serious, but because it was explosives, it wasn't deemed 'Oh my God,' just that this guy had a fascination."

Investigators are looking at his police history, along with a stormy family life, to determine what led to the chaotic shooting Friday on a Southern California college campus. The encounter seven years ago appeared to be the last reported run-in Zawahri had with police until he died in a shootout with officers Friday.

Santa Monica police Sgt. Richard Lewis said a pipe was found in the home, but declined to provide more details because Zawahri was a juvenile at the time.

Zawahri wasn't expelled, but he didn't finish classes at Olympic High — a school for students who have academic or disciplinary issues. Lyon said Zawahri attended the school for six months during 2006.

Zawahri, 23, shot his father, Samir Zawahri, 55, and his brother Christopher Zawahri, 25, on Friday, leaving their home in flames before shooting at strangers in cars and at Santa Monica College, in a 15-minute rampage that occurred as students were taking final exams and ended with John Zawahri fatally shot by officers in the college library.

The victims included a campus groundskeeper and his daughter, who was a student at the college, and a woman collecting cans outside the library.


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