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Monday, October 25, 2021

Survivors share strength, love 10 years after California hair salon mass shooting

It’s like a different life, but the pain still burns.

Ten years ago, at 1:00 pm on October 12, 2011, an angry man entered the Seal Beach hairdresser with three pistols. Over the next 21 minutes, he shot nine people – even though some pleaded with them to keep their lives.

Eight will die, including his ex-wife.

It was the worst mass shooting in Orange County history. Others will follow.

The massacre shook the quiet community with its daily beach atmosphere to its core: mothers took the children, the children – the parents, and the spouses – the other halves.

Some worked in a salon, and some were a customer enjoying beauty. One man was just sitting in his car in the parking lot near his favorite lunch spot. Everyone was loved – and now missed – by the shocked families and friends they left behind.

On the evening of Tuesday, October 12, about 200 survivors, neighbors and city officials gathered in the park by the pier to celebrate the horrific day. Still in mourning, the family members hugged and cried as they bumped into each other again.

“It doesn’t look like 10 years have passed,” said 25-year-old Lisa Fast, whose mother, Michelle Fast, died in the shooting.

“It still seems like it happened just yesterday. I think about everything my mom lacked – high school and college graduation, my sister’s wedding, the birth of her granddaughter. She would make a better grandmother. “

  • Sandy Fannin (right), whose husband Randy was killed in the Salon Meritage shooting, tearfully hugs Gordon Gallego, the Salon Meritage stylist who survived the attack, during a picket at Eisenhower Park on Seal Beach on Tuesday, October 12. In 2021, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the mass shooting of the Meritage salon, which killed 8 people. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Survivors share strength, love 10 years after California hair salon mass shooting

    Hattie Stretz (second from left), Salon Meritage survivor, on Tuesday October 12, 2021, hosts an all-night vigil at Eisenhower Park on Seal Beach to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Salon Meritage massacre that killed 8 people … … Hattie’s husband, Tom on the right. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Survivors share strength, love 10 years after California hair salon mass shooting

    Family and friends gather to mourn and remember during a vigil at Eisenhower Park on Seal Beach on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the mass shooting of the Meritage Salon that killed 8 people. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Survivors share strength, love 10 years after California hair salon mass shooting

    Family members throw flowers into the ocean from Seal Beach Pier in Seal Beach on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, to commemorate the 8 people killed in the mass shooting of the Meritage Salon at the conclusion of a memorial vigil. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Survivors share strength, love 10 years after California hair salon mass shooting

    Gordon Gallego (right), Salon Meritage stylist and survivor of the attack, hugs during a vigil at Eisenhower Park on Seal Beach on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Salon Meritage mass shooting that killed 8 human. people. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Survivors share strength, love 10 years after California hair salon mass shooting

    Family and friends attend a picket at Eisenhower Park on Seal Beach on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the mass shooting of the Meritage Salon that killed 8 people. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Survivors share strength, love 10 years after California hair salon mass shooting

    Paul Wilson, whose wife Christy Wilson was killed in the mass shooting at the Meritage Salon, was overwhelmed with emotion during a vigil at Eisenhower Park on Seal Beach on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, to commemorate the Salon’s 10th anniversary. Honored mass execution, which killed 8 people. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

Loved ones took turns praising those they had lost. Then, as the sun was setting over the ocean, they lit candles as a sign of unity and hope.

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Many of the remaining families have become close friends, sharing pain that only they can understand. and survive together in a lengthy murder trial.

Scott Evans Decraai, who pleaded guilty to the shooting, was sentenced in 2017 to eight life sentences with no parole.

The case dragged on as evidence was collected showing widespread abuse of prison informants by local prosecutors and sheriff’s deputies. Because of this misconduct, Supreme Court Justice Thomas Gethals ultimately ruled out the death penalty for Decrae.

But Dekraai, his name is not mentioned in the speeches, was not the person who was remembered.Survivors share strength, love 10 years after California hair salon mass shooting

This photo shows the people who were killed during the shooting at a beauty salon in Seal Beach, California, Wednesday, October 12, 2011. Top row on the left – Michelle Fournier, Michelle Fast, David Cowett and Christie. Lynn Wilson. Bottom row left – Laura Lee Elodie, Lucia Bernice Kondas, Victoria Ann Buzzo and Randy Lee Fannin. (AP Photo)

At 73, Hattie Stretz was the only shooting victim to survive the gangster’s rampage. Her daughter Laura Webb Elodie, who worked at the salon, has died.

“I don’t know how the oldest shot survived,” Stretz said in her speech, adding that the others “must be proud to look at this wonderful community.”

Salon employee Gordon Gallego also survived by hiding in the closet with colleague Lisa Powers, who died of cancer last year.

“I’m still waiting for the opportunity to wake up from this nightmare,” he said. “I’ve been going through that awful day every day for the past 10 years – panic, sounds, smells I can’t describe. These are the scars on my brain. “

He recalled how salon owner Randy Lee Fannin, who had ever defended his employees, “tried to reason with the criminal,” to no avail.

Gallego lovingly named his deceased colleagues, telling a funny and cute anecdote about each.

Christy Lynn Wilson “had a signature scent that was such a Christy, and she always looked like a million dollars,” Gallego recalled.

“Sweet, Sweet Laura” Elodie made birthday cakes for her colleagues.

And Michelle Fournier, Decrai’s ex-wife, was always optimistic, “even when her life got rough.”

“She was the strongest of us,” Gallego said.

Seal Beach Police Chief Phil Gonshak, who was an officer at the time, found David Cauet injured in his car and escorted him to the hospital. “He wanted me to tell his family how much he loves them,” Gonshak recalled. “I was with Dave when he took his last breath.”

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