Memorial held for Seal Beach victim who was shot in his Land Rover
About 100 people gathered Monday evening at Patty's Place, a small but popular Seal Beach restaurant, to say goodbye to a friend, neighbor and co-worker who was killed last week simply because he was within shooting range of Salon Meritage.
Dave Caouette, 64, was one of eight people killed by accused gunman Scott Dekraai, who allegedly opened fire at the salon in a rampage that left a ninth person seriously wounded.
Caouette had been in his Land Rover, having just had lunch at Patty's Place. On Monday, buckets of yellow roses were in the parking spot where Caoette died.
Dart Downing was among those at the memorial, even though he didn't know Caouette. But Downing said he was standing about 15 feet away when Caouette was shot.
"I'm devastated," Downing said. "I don't know what to say other than tears."
The Southern California Land Rover community also turned out in force; Caouette worked at Land Rover Mission Viejo.
"We just wanted the family to know SCLR is thinking about them," said Janet Hart, who with her fiance had camped with Caouette at the Rover Rendezvous in Big Bear this past summer.
John Gadd described the Land Rover community as close-knit.
"Right from the get go when I saw the truck there, was no doubt it was part of the family," he said, adding that Caouette was "hard to forget. Physically and his personality -- he was huge."
Conal Mackendrick, who was at the memorial with his son James, said Caouette liked the desert, old mining towns, mules and Indian routes.
"Dave was certainly a memorable character," he said.
Ivonne Meader, who also knew Caouette through the Land Rover trips, said he was one of a kind.
"He loved life," she said. "He loved every piece of life."
Umberto Bonfante came from Pasadena to pay his respects.
"I had no idea Dave was here until Saturday night when I read about it on the SCLR forum," Bonfante said.
A remembrance noted that Caouette was a "beloved husband, loving father, joyful grandfather, loyal friend." It also said, "Take off your watch."
Said friend Cheril Thiele: "It was his slogan" -- a reminder to be present in the moment.
--Lauren Williams, Times Community News
Photo: Friends comfort each other at the site where Dave Caouette was killed in the parking lot near the Salon Meritage. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times