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Seal Beach shooting: Survivor is like 'Mother Teresa'

October 13, 2011 | 12:12 pm

Flowers and a poem are left at Salon Meritage after the shooting that killed eight

This post has been corrected. See details below.

Hattie Stretz stopped by the Los Alamitos Youth Center for a friendly visit Wednesday morning and ended up signing up as a volunteer to help out at the facility's haunted-house production on Halloween.

Then she headed over to the Seal Beach hair salon where her daughter worked as a stylist.

It proved to be fateful trip.

A gunman walked into Salon Meritage and opened fire Wednesday afternoon, shooting nine people in what has become Orange County's deadliest shooting. Eight people died, and one survived but remains in critical condition.

Stretz, 73, was the lone survivor. Her daughter, Laura Elody, is among the dead.

Full coverage: Deadly shooting at Seal Beach beauty salon

"We are shocked and heartbroken," said Lina Lumme, the youth center's executive director. "These are truly wonderful people, full of compassion and young at heart. Always giving, giving, giving."

Lumme compared Stretz to "Mother Teresa" for her generous, charitable spirit. Stretz's husband retired as the center's executive director two years ago, but the couple has remained active with the nonprofit, she said.

Stretz, a retired nurse, remains hospitalized but "she is going to be all right," Lumme said. "We lost Laura," she added.

Another possible victim was identified by a local youth soccer club, Beach Futbol Club, as Michele Fast, wife of a team manager and mother of one of the players, according to a post on the club's website.

Police have not officially identified the victims of the shooting, but the alleged gunman, Scott Evans Dekraai, 42, was arrested.

Witnesses said the gunman appeared to be targeting Dekraai's former wife, a stylist at Salon Meritage on Pacific Coast Highway.

[For the record, 3:30 p.m. Friday: An earlier version of this post identified Laura Elody as Laura Webb, a name she often used.]


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-- Louis Sahagun in Seal Beach

Photo: Flowers and a poem are left at the door of Salon Meritage in Seal Beach on the morning after the shooting. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times