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. “
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.
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.
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.”
Rooney Dashbach said his sister Michelle Fast, the youngest of six children, was their father’s favorite. He said their father “died of a broken heart” two months after his daughter’s death.
“It has exponentially affected all of our families,” he said.
According to Dashbakh, Fast, known for his practicality, went to the hairdresser no more than twice a year, “and it happened.”
“Eight innocent people got up that morning and had plans,” said Donald Shoemaker, a Seal Beach Police Department volunteer chaplain who subsequently advised the families. “They had things that they had to do, or wanted to do, or, above all, had the right to do.”