Eight people were killed and one critically wounded Wednesday afternoon when a heavily armed gunman wearing body armor opened fire at the in Seal Beach, police said.
Shortly after the shootings, a white male suspect -- with weapons strewn across the floorboard of his white truck and guns strapped to his body -- was arrested without incident half a mile from the scene, police and one witness said.
The alleged gunman was the ex-husband of a salon employee named Michelle, according to the husband of another employee who survived the shooting unharmed after locking herself inside a back room.
The shooting spree began around 1:20 p.m. in the 500 block of Pacific Coast Highway, said Los Alamitos police Capt. Bruce McAlpine.
"We're not sure at this time if he shot from the entrance or if people were shot as they ran seeking shelter, but they were shot all over the salon," McAlpine said.
One employee, Kathy McGhee, was working in a back room when the gunfire began, according to her husband, Dave McGhee. A customer grabbed her and locked the door behind them, McGhee said. Moments later, someone tried to open the door from the outside, but didn't get in, he said.
"She [Kathy] called 911 and then me," McGhee said.
Police arrived a minute later, in time to follow a truck believed to be the suspect's.
Inside the salon, authorities found six people dead, including owner Randy Fannin. Three others -- two men and a 73-year-old woman -- were rushed to a trauma hospital, McAlpine said. One of the wounded was found in a nearby car, although it's unclear if that vicitm was shot in the car or fled there from the salon, police said.
Two of the wounded victims have since died, police said, making this the worst mass killing in Orange County history, surpassing a 1976 shooting in the library of Cal State Fullerton.
Police said the motive was under investigation, but McGhee said the alleged gunman had recently lost a divorce custody battle with a salon employee named Michelle.
Police said they weren't sure how many weapons were used in the shooting.
"Obviously a crime of this magnitude is something that Seal Beach is not familiar with," Bowles said.
Strangely, the shooting took place not far from a TV taping of CSI: Miami.
The real crime scene quickly drew a huge crowd.
"I was sitting on the beach when I heard sirens so I ran to see what was happening," said Marc Loopesko, who lives down the street from the salon.
About 100 residents, some dressed for the beach and others who raced over from work to check on loved ones, stood around the block where news vans mixed with fire trucks. Seal Beach fire engine 44, arriving from three blocks away, was first on the scene to treat victims.
More details as they become available.
People who fear a loved one might have been shot should call Seal Beach police at 562-799-4100, Bowles said. "Our primary mission now is to support these families,'' he told City News Service.