Santa Monica shooting survivor: ‘Thank God, I’m alive’

Mother of suspected shooter says she’s in mourning, asks for privacy

CNN News Wire | 6/11/2013, 1:29 p.m.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — By all accounts, suspected Santa Monica shooter John Zawahri was ready to inflict maximum harm.
John Zawahri

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — By all accounts, suspected Santa Monica shooter John Zawahri was ready to inflict maximum harm.

He had multiple firearms and about 1,300 rounds of ammunition. Also, apparently, he had the capacity to kill.

Police say he killed his father and brother, along with three others, during a Friday afternoon rampage in Santa Monica, California.

But by some strokes of good luck, or because of quick thinking, Zawahri was not able to kill more.

“As soon as I looked him straight in the eye, I saw what he was going to do,” said Deborah Fine.

She told CNN she saw the gunman pull over another woman and hold a rifle to her head.

“I thought to myself, ‘What are you doing? Why are you pointing this gun at her?’ And so I put on my accelerator, I hit the gas, and I got in between the two of them,” she said.

The bold move quickly turned the gunman’s attention to Fine.

“I’ll never forget his eyes. They were just so intense and so cold,” she said.

“I was somebody in the way, and I was somebody to get out of the way. And that’s when he raised his rifle.”

Bullets struck Fine three to four times across her body.

She balks at the idea that anybody might call her a hero.

“It really was just an anger that came over me that he wouldn’t leave her alone, and she was young,” said Fine, a mother of twins.

“I get angry and take on the bully,” she said. “I’m glad I did what I did, but thank God, I’m alive.”

‘He let me go’

Laura Sisk was the woman Fine saw get pulled over.

“He just appeared in the middle of the road,” Sisk told CNN’s AC360 Monday night.

He screamed at her to get out of the car and to pick up a heavy bag of his off the ground and put it in her car.

“I suggested he take my car and go. He didn’t like that idea and said that I was going to drive him and made me get in. And then he got in after shooting a little bit more,” Sisk said.

During the drive, he gave her directions — go right, go left, go straight. At an intersection, he opened fire on a bus.

Sisk said she was shaking hysterically. The gunman kept telling her to calm down.

“I just kept saying don’t hurt me, I have children, don’t hurt me,” she said.

“He let me go ... I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was because I had said I had children and he bonded with me on that, I don’t know.”

Spree leaves five dead

Police say the spate of violence that left this beachfront city reeling on Friday involved as many as six incidents over 13 minutes.

It started at the Zawahri family house on Yorkshire Avenue shortly before noon and ended a mile away in the college library where students were studying for finals.