Seal Beach police said the death toll from the salon shooting has risen to eight people. A ninth victim is in critical condition at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.
"This could be one of our greatest tragedies," Police Sgt. Steve Bowles said.
The gunman opened fire inside the crowded salon Wednesday, littering the shop with bodies. Police said he acted alone, although investigators said they were still scrambling to piece together what triggered such violence.
Full coverage: Deadly shooting at Seal Beach beauty salon
Eyewitnesses said that he was targeting his ex-wife and that the two were involved in a custody dispute.
The alleged shooter was apprehended only a few blocks from the Salon Meritage, the Pacific Coast Highway shop that was bustling with customers and stylists when the shooting erupted.
One of the victims was apparently the owner of the salon, Randy Fannin, a relative said.
“Randy is dead,” said the owner’s niece, Tami Scarcella. “Randy is dead for sure.”
A middle-aged Anaheim woman who identified herself as Cindy said she was sitting in the chair getting her hair done by Fannin when a man walked in and started shooting.
“It went boom, boom, boom,” she said, speaking outside the taped-off crime scene. “I was afraid he was going to shoot everybody.”
The afternoon shooting left the normally placid beach town struggling to make sense of the carnage. A policeman spokesman said the shooting had put the city and its small police force on unfamiliar ground.
Bowles said the crime scene was horrific. “There are victims throughout the entire salon," he said.
Witnesses and survivors alike were taken to a nearby apartment complex to settle their nerves. Others milled outside the police lines at the neighborhood shopping center, recounting what had happened.
Marissa Pei said she had been at the gym earlier in the day with a friend before bumping into her again outside the shopping center. She was sobbing.
" ''My friend is dead. My friend is dead,’ ” Pei said the woman told her. “I held her.”
Pei said she also spoke to a man married to someone who was at the salon.
“’My baby. She’s half of me,’ ” Pei recalled him saying. “ 'Please, God, don’t let her be dead.’ ”
Dion Martini, a manicurist at a nearby salon, said: "This is a shock to the whole community. All of us around here have worked together at one time or another."
Martini was busy with a client herself when she heard sirens and helicopters and knew something was wrong. When she learned a shooting had unfolded in a salon much like hers, she struggled to contain her emotions.
"I've been having chills and had to hold back tears," she said. "I just can't imagine anybody being that sick to go in and do that to anybody."
Dr. James Blake, a dentist, was in his 5th street office doing bridge work on a patient, as his hygienists cleaned other patients’ teeth, when he heard what he later learned were gunshots coming from the parking lot outside.
“Then there was a pause and a few more gunshots,” said Blake in an interview with The Times. “I didn’t see the shooter.”
Alarmed, Blake said his staff immediately locked the door to the office until police arrived.
The shooting “definitely was very unexpected” for Seal Beach, said Blake, who’s had his office in the shopping center since 1992.
”When you have somebody who just loses it, you can be anywhere and not be safe,” he said.
Hair News Network