Seal Beach shooting: Victim in 'wrong place at the wrong time'
His friends knew right off when they saw the customized Land Rover outside the Seal Beach salon that their pal David Caouette might be among the victims in Orange County's deadliest shooting.
"He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and had no way to defend himself," longtime friend Ed Testa told the Orange County Register.
Caouette and Testa were among a group of hard-core off-road enthusiasts who liked to head off to Big Bear or the desert to blaze the trails, the newspaper reported.
By Thursday, the online message board for the Southern California Land Rover Club was filled with remembrances.
"The more I look … at all the event pictures I have on my computer here the more I am reminded of all the crazy incredible times we had," one post read.
It was not immediately clear why Caouette was parked near Salon Meritage, where the shooting took place. But Testa told the Register that the former car salesman lived in Seal Beach and may have been dining at one of the many restaurants and cafes at the bustling Pacific Coast Highway shopping center.
"My eyes starting welling up, and I had to go home," friend Richard Nelson told the newspaper. "It just made me think about how you can be enjoying your day one moment and gone the next. So unfair."
Eight people were killed in Wednesday's shooting, and a single suspect, Scott Dekraai, has been booked on suspicion of murder. He is being held without bail at Orange County Jail.
Seal Beach police said they will not release any of the victims' names until Friday, but in a small community such as Seal Beach, the names of those who were killed -– as well as the lone survivor -– are becoming known.
The one survivor was Hattie Stretz, a 73-year-old retired nurse and community activist who was visiting her daughter at the salon at the time of the shooting. Her daughter, Laura Webb, was among those killed, according to friends.
Another possible victim was identified by a local youth soccer club, Beach Futbol Club, as Michelle Fast, wife of a team manager and mother of one of the players, according to a post on the club's website.
-- Steve Marble
Photo: A memorial grows outside Seal Beach salon where eight people were killed. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times