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Child custody battle foreshadowed fatal shooting

Last week, a man in a bulletproof vest entered a California beauty salon and opened fire with three handguns. When the shots died down, eight people were dead and one person was critically injured. Now, in the days following the fatal shooting, many people are wondering why it happened and if it could have been prevented.

According to media reports of the incident, the 41-year-old man came into the salon with the intention of killing his ex-wife, who was employed there. After a short marriage and bitter divorce, the former spouses had been embroiled in a heated child custody battle regarding their 8-year-old son. In a family court hearing the previous day, a judge refused to grant the man’s request for a change in the custody order and set a trial on the matter for December.

After divorcing his first wife, the man and his now-deceased ex-wife were married in Nevada in 2003 after a whirlwind courtship. Their son was born seven months later.

However, what should have been a happy time for the new spouses was reportedly not so. The ex-wife told a friend that the man began threatening her soon into the marriage, reportedly holding a gun to her head shortly after their wedding. After about three years of marriage, she left him in December 2006.

The following February, the man was involved in a near-fatal accident while working on a tugboat. He spent a month in the hospital but never fully recovered from his injuries, remaining in constant pain and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. His wife had filed for divorce by the time he got out of the hospital.

Although the former spouses shared custody of their son, he repeatedly pushed for more parenting time, filing court motions to that effect. And although he remarried and was, by all appearances, living a happy and stable life, last week’s custody hearing seemed to push him over the edge. He now faces the death penalty.

Source: Las Vegas Sun, “Poor decisions shadowed salon shooting suspect,” Oct. 15, 2011

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