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Salon massacre details revealed: 'He's shooting everybody!'

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Dramatic details emerged from grand jury testimony unsealed in the massacre at the Seal Beach hair salon that left nine people dead.

The transcripts, released Thursday, described a desperate scene when the gunman began opening fire in the bloodiest shooting rampage in Orange County history.

In the pandemonium of people scrambling to escape, Kenneth Caleb saw a lone, limping figure possessed of a strange calm.

PHOTOS: Seal Beach shooting

Caleb was staring out the window of Patty's Place, the Seal Beach restaurant where he went for lunch that day in October. Moments earlier, a terrified employee at the Salon Meritage next door had rushed into the restaurant screaming one phrase over and over:

"Call the police, he's shooting everybody!"

Caleb heard gunshots. Through the glass door, he could see the scene outside the salon. There were "people running everywhere … a bunch of chaos of people running around," he told a grand jury in January.

Amid the commotion, he saw one man with a limp move casually through the parking lot, his shoulders square, his gaze cast downward with "zero expression on his face."

It reminded Caleb of a man strolling in a park. "I am trying to put the picture together," Caleb testified. "I thought he was a derelict and he just didn't understand what was going on, and he was putting himself in harm."

The man turned out to be Scott Dekraai, the 42-year-old former tugboat crewman accused of opening fire in the hair salon, shooting customers and employees alike. He's now charged with eight counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in the massacre. He has pleaded not guilty.

Police say Dekraai was bent on revenge against his 48-year-old ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, when he entered a side door of the crowded Pacific Coast Highway salon just after 1 p.m. last Oct. 12.

The couple had divorced in 2007 and fought bitterly over custody of their 8-year-old son. Gordon Gallego, a hairstylist who thought of his salon coworkers as "my family," said he would see Fournier come to work upset by the toll of the fight. 

He also knew the face of the man on the other end of that court battle. He had been to Christmas parties and birthday parties with Dekraai, and a month before had seen him drop off his son at the salon.

So he recognized Dekraai when he walked into the salon that afternoon and headed toward the shampoo bowls, he told the grand jury.

At one of the bowls, Fournier was shampooing the hair of Christy Wilson, 47, a salon employee and mother of three. "I heard him blurt out, 'This is what you wanted,' or 'This is how you wanted it,' and started shooting both girls," Gallego said.

Both Fournier and Wilson were killed. Gallego said he grabbed a coworker, fled to a bathroom in the back of the salon and tried to hide behind a toilet as he heard "constant screaming and gunshots" from the other room.

Gallego said he heard Laura Elody, a 46-year-old stylist and newlywed, banging  on the door of the facial room, trying to escape the slaughter. Then he heard her lean against the door of the bathroom where he was hiding.

"You don't have to do this, please don't kill me," he recalled her saying.

Then came the sound of gunshots. "I heard her take her last breath," Gallego said.

After a few minutes, when the gunshots had faded and it seemed safe to come out, Gallego testified that he tried to push the bathroom door open, but Elody's body was blocking it, forcing him to climb onto a sink and over her body.

The salon was covered with the dead or dying, he said.

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-- Christopher Goffard and Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: A Seal Beach police officer checks the door at Salon Meritage the morning after the October shooting rampage. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

 
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