The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Seal Beach Shooting at Salon, Custody Dispute Suspected Motive

In what has been called the worst mass killing in Orange County history, a gunman opened fire in a salon, murdering eight people on Wednesday afternoon, reports The Orange County Register. The possible motive for the Seal Beach shooting? The suspect may have been in a bitter custody dispute with one of the stylists, potentially throwing the spotlight on the deadliness of domestic violence during what has been proclaimed to be Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Six people reportedly died immediately, while two others died of critical injuries at Long Beach Memorial Hospital. One woman still remains in critical condition.

The Seal Beach shooting has rocked the sleepy seaside town to its core. Before Wednesday, there had only been four homicides in the past ten years. In Orange County, the last massacre occurred in 1976.

Directly after the shooting, police were able to apprehend a suspect half-a-mile away from the Salon Meritage, where the attack occurred. Authorities later confirmed that their sole suspect in the case is Scott Dekraai, a one-time tugboat crewman who neighbors say was a devoted father to his young son, according to The Register.

Although police have not stated what the motive may have been behind the mass killing, coworkers and customers speculated that Dekraai may have been in the middle of a bitter custody dispute with one of the stylists at the salon. Court records indicate that Dekraai has been seeking full custody of his son and has been in a custody battle with his ex-wife since 2007. Dekraai had just been in court for a hearing on Tuesday.

Sadly, October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, a time when communities make an effort to promote awareness of spousal abuse and family violence. Nationally, domestic violence victims reportedly account for three times more emergency room visits than accidents and muggings combined.

In addition, nearly one-third of all women murdered in the United States in recent years were murdered by a current or former intimate partner, according to the Family Violence Prevention Fund. Further, two-thirds of females killed with a firearm were shot by their intimate partners.

Under the rules of criminal procedure, Scott Dekraai is innocent until proven guilty, and his neighbors say it’s hard to believe that he could commit such a heinous crime. However, if Dekraai is charged and convicted of the Seal Beach shooting, a bitter custody dispute over a beloved son could be the motive for the worst killing in Orange County history.

And just one more statistic of domestic violence.

Related Resources: