Dekraai’s neighbors considered him one of the friendliest guys on the block, a man who invited them over for pool parties and played catch with his son in his yard. Friends of his ex-wife, though, say she lived in fear of the man now accused of gunning down her and seven other people at the hair salon where she worked.

He suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from a 2007 tugboat accident that mangled his leg and left a colleague dead. His marriage to Michelle Fournier was falling apart even before that, and the court battle over their 7-year-old son was still raging Wednesday when Dekraai sprayed the Salon Meritage with gunfire, police say.

Fournier had indicated to friends and in court documents that she was afraid of her ex-husband. Her friend Sharyn White said that just weeks before the killings, she told her that Dekraai had stopped by and threatened to kill her and others there.

White said Fournier told her she took the threat seriously, though others in the salon laughed it off. White also said Fournier had told her that when they were still married, Dekraai had once held a gun to her head. They were divorced in December 2007.

There is no sign that Fournier sought a restraining order against her ex-husband, though other friends agree she was afraid.

“As recently as a month ago, she told me how scared she was and I offered to hire her bodyguards,” said Tim Terbush, a longtime friend. He said she turned him down because she feared that would only make Dekraai more angry.

Six women and two men were killed in the shooting in the quaint seaside town of Seal Beach, which had only one homicide in the previous four years. A wounded woman was hospitalized in critical condition, although Sgt. Steve Bowles said Thursday she was showing signs of improvement.

Authorities said they would not release the victims’ names before today, but another ex-husband of Fournier’s, Steve Huff, confirmed that she was among the dead. Salon owner Randy Fannin’s niece, Tami Scarcella, told the Los Angeles Times her uncle also was among the victims.

Police who arrived within minutes of reports of shots fired encountered a horrific scene, with bodies of victims scattered throughout the salon and a man bleeding in the parking lot outside.

Ron Sesler, working the lunch rush at his restaurant next door, said he thought the rapid “pop, pop, pop” he heard was a jackhammer until a terrified woman ran in screaming, “They’re shooting people.”
He said the man killed outside was a regular at the restaurant who just happened to park next to the gunman as he was running back to his truck.

“If he was late, the guy would have driven away. If he was early, he would have been in here,” Sesler said.

Police arrested Dekraai, 41, about a half-mile from the scene. He put up no resistance and was being held without bail Thursday.

Throughout Seal Beach and the nearby city of Huntington Beach, where Dekraai lived, his bitter custody battle with Fournier was common knowledge among friends of both. Dekraai had even attended a court hearing on Tuesday related to it, although nothing important had taken place that day.

“It was a very difficult battle,” said Jo Cornhall, who lives across the street from Dekraai.

In court documents filed in February, Dekraai said he had 56 percent custody of his son and his ex-wife had 44 percent. He wanted the court to grant him “final decision-making authority” when it came to matters involving their son’s education and his medical and psychological treatment.
In court documents filed in May, Fournier described her ex-husband as “almost manic” when it came to controlling their son.

She said Dekraai “is a diagnosed bipolar individual who has problems with his own medication and his reaction to same, and he certainly shouldn’t be allowed to have unilateral and unfettered control of any and all medical and psychological aspects of our son’s life.”

She said then that giving Dekraai such authority would be akin to “a situation where the inmates are running the asylum.”

Fournier also alleged that Dekraai had called 911 at least once and “advised that he was going to kill himself or someone else.”

Board-certified psychiatrist Ronald Silverstein told the court that he had diagnosed Dekraai, a tugboat operator, with post-traumatic stress disorder that he said was caused by the 2007 accident.

Court records show a temporary restraining order was obtained by Dekraai’s stepfather in 2007 after the man said Dekraai attacked him, leaving him with cuts and bruises on his face and right arm. The order, which Dekraai did not contest, also said his young son had witnessed the attack.

Dekraai said in court documents that his ex-wife had poor parenting skills and a drinking problem.

She called him several times a day, Dekraai said, often screaming at him over the phone and in front of their son. He said she addressed him by an expletive instead of his name and made racist references to his current wife.

At the strip mall where the shooting occurred, people streamed by a memorial to pay their respects Thursday. Amid the flowers and candles someone had left a poem asking, “Where was God? Was he looking the other way?”

Susan Davenport choked up as she spoke of Fournier.

“She was a loving mom. She was a wonderful woman. She was kind. She was generous. She was all of those things,” she said.

“Our community is devastated,” she added. “We know all the people. We know the people in the salon and I know Scott.”