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Seal Beach shooting: Victim predicted ex-husband would kill her

October 13, 2011 |  4:53 pm

Michelle Fournier, left, and Christy Wilson

Michelle Fournier made no secret about the fact that she feared her ex-husband. She told one friend she thought he might kill her.

So when her brother Butch Fournier turned on the television Wednesday and saw that the Salon Meritage awning was the site of a shooting rampage, he immediately felt sick: "I knew exactly who did it and exactly what happened."

Full coverage: Deadly shooting at Seal Beach beauty salon

Police say that Fournier's ex-husband Scott Dekraai walked into the busy salon at 1:21 p.m. Wednesday. Armed with a handgun, he opened fire, killing eight people and wounding one 73-year-old woman. Fournier, friends and family said, was the likely target as the two were locked in an ugly custody fight over their 8-year-old son.

Police released no new details about the shooting, but said that it was not a random act of violence. The gunman, they said, knew someone at the salon. More information, including the identities of the eight dead, will be released Friday by Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas.

Butch Fournier said that Wednesday's shooting may have been prompted by a recent custody  report, referenced at  a court hearing Tuesday. The report kept custody roughly equal between the couple despite Dekraai's efforts seeking additional time with his son.

Steve Huff, who was married to Michelle Fournier for eight years, said that even though they have two children, they made their relationship work after the divorce.

"It's just unfortunate that a madman had to derail everybody like this," Huff said. "This guy was just a loose cannon. … She just wanted to get along."

Fournier started dating her boyfriend, Michael Warzybok, last October. He said it was "love at first sight."

"She was upbeat about moving on with her life, but she was also fearful," said friend Molli Raef. "She told me, 'I cant believe I got involved in this. He is not right…He's going to kill me.’ "

Since their divorce was finalized in 2007, the couple had been in and out of court.

Fournier's relatives said Dekraai devoted seemingly unlimited resources to try to take custody away from his ex-wife. He accused her of being an "uncaring, selfish drunk" and later of abusing their son.

"I don't know who that person is that he is describing, but it certainly isn't me," she said in court records.

In turn, she accused him of "grilling" their son about his mother for so long that it left the child in tears.  She also said Dekraai physically and mentally abused her - and was bipolar.

Dekraai's doctor said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as the result of a tugboat accident that killed a fellow deck mate and severely injured his leg. Fournier's family suggested that Dekraai was unstable even before the accident.

A longtime acquaintance of Dekraai, however, said that the accident changed him.

"Everybody loved him. If you asked me a hundred people and gave me from a scale of one to 10 who would be most likely to flip, he wouldn't have been there," said Don Ashley, owner of Pierpoint Landing in Long Beach, where Dekraai worked for about 10 years.

After the accident, he coped with the injuries to his legs. He was bedridden and underwent surgery after surgery. Once trim and muscular, he became overweight.

"The last four or five years, he was pretty miserable," Ashley said.

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-- Nicole Santa Cruz, Tony Barboza and Louis Sahagun

Photo: A picture of two of the victims, Michelle Fournier, left, and Christy Wilson, has been taped to the window near the door of Salon Meritage in Seal Beach. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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