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Santa Monica shooting raises specter of mental health, again

Alleged mass shooters from Aurora, Colo., to Tucson, Ariz., have had brushes with mental-health issues. Early reports suggest that Santa Monica shooting suspect John Zawahri might have, too.


John Zawahri, a suspected gunman, enters the library at Santa Monica City College during Friday's shooting incident in this image from a surveillance camera video.

Santa Monica Police/Reuters

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The mental health of John Zawahri, accused of fatally shooting five people in Santa Monica, Calif., Friday before being killed by law enforcement, is increasingly becoming a focal point in the search for larger lessons behind yet another mass shooting.

Law-enforcement officials are refusing to speak on the record about Mr. Zawahri's mental health, citing privacy laws. But CNN has reported that Zawahri was hospitalized for mental-health treatment a few years ago, and neighbors and acquaintances have said that Zawahri was troubled by his parents' divorce and point to a history of angry outbursts and a “fascination with guns,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Given that three young men accused of being mass shooters in recent years – Adam Lanza in Newtown, Conn., James Holmes in Aurora, Colo., and Jared Loughner in Tucson, Ariz. – all struggled with mental-health issues, the questions about Zawahri are multiplying.

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