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Santa Monica shootings: Were gun control laws powerless to stop suspect? (+video)

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(Read caption) Santa Monica College death toll rises; fifth victim dies of gunshot wounds
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Details about John Zawahri, the body-armor clad man who Santa Monica police say killed four people in a shooting spree Friday, are scant. But so far, early reports agree that those who knew Mr. Zawahri believed he was a troubled young man.

Mr. Zawahri had been hospitalized for treatment several years ago after allegedly talking about harming someone, a law enforcement source told CNN on Saturday. The source said Zawahri suffered mental-health issues.

A close friend of the family, who worked with Zawahri's mother, said "John had a fascination with guns. We were all worried about it," according to a Los Angeles Times report.

And one neighbor of Zawahri and his mother, who lived together, told the Times that the mother is "a lovely woman. Petite, sweet, quiet, brunette, and classy – with a crazy kid."

The accounts offer an echo of Newtown, Conn., where a single mother apparently struggled to keep a "crazy kid" in line. There, the mother was the first victim, killed before Adam Lanza went on a his shooting spree, killing 20 first-graders and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary.

In Santa Monica, Calif., the 23-year-old Zawahri killed his father and brother before fatally shooting three other people on the campus of Santa Monica College, stocked with an arsenal of bullets, a handgun, and an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, police say. Zawahri was ultimately killed by law enforcement on the campus. Zawahri's mother, Randa Abdou, is reportedly on a one-month vacation in Lebanon.

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