Salon Tragedy Shocks Nation, Industry
Those who live in Seal Beach, CA, affectionately refer to the sleepy community as ‘Mayberry By the Sea,’ but on Wednesday, October 12, the town, located about 30 southeast miles from Los Angeles, was the unlikely scene of a workplace shooting that is sending shock waves through the nation, as well the professional beauty industry.
At approximately 1:30 p.m., a heavily armed man wearing a bullet-proof vest walked into Salon Meritage, which is in the 500 block of the Pacific Coast Highway, and opened fire. Six people were killed immediately, and three were hospitalized with severe injuries. Two of the hospitalized victims later succumbed to their injuries.
Seal Beach police have identified the shooting suspect as Scott Evans De Kraai, 42, a former marine who is the ex-husband of one of the salon’s stylists. The names of the deceased are being withheld until family members have been notified, but relatives of Michelle Fournier, De Kraai’s ex wife, have confirmed she was a victim of the shooting to reporters. They believe she was the main target because of an alleged custody suit. According to the Los Angeles Times, one of the other victims of the shooting is thought to be Randy Fannin, the owner of the salon.
De Kraai was taken into custody a half-mile from the crime scene—police have reported he was driving in a residential community. “Our officers arrived at the scene and found multiple gunshot victims inside of the salon,” Sgt. Steve Bowles of the Seal Beach Police Department told reporters Wednesday evening. “Other responding officers who arrived saw what they thought was a suspect vehicle leaving the area and they took that suspect into custody.”
Police cordoned off the light blue bungalow in nearby Huntington Beach, De Kraai’s home for the past two years. Neighbors told reporters they often saw him outside in the yard playing catch with his son.
According to news agencies, clients have began gathering at Salon Meritage Thursday morning—anxious to learn news of their favorite stylist as they light candles, leave flowers or say a prayer.
“Seal Beach is a small safe community. We don’t experience these things,” said Bowles.
While details of the shooting continue to emerge, it's important to note that the National Cosmetolgy Association/Professional Beauty Assocation has developed Cut It Out, a program of the Salons Against Domestic Abuse Fund dedicated to mobilizing proessionals and others to fight the epidemic of domestic abuse in communities across the United States. "Cut It Out builds awareness of domestic abuse and trains salon professionals to recognize warning signs and safely refer clients or co-workers to local resources," says Rachel Molepske, manager of charitable programs for PBA. "Materials are avaliable for clients and staff and can be ordered free of charge at cutitout.org."
The struggle for many salons, owners, and stylists is how to put this tragedy into perspective for themselves and their clients. We invited some of the industry's leading coaches to offer their advice:
"We will never be able to put into perspective what happened in Seal Beach, CA, at Salon Meritage. The lives of the victims ended too soon, and at the hand of a very sick, evil person. Thousands of people—family, friends and clients are forever changed. But there are a few things we CAN do. Most importantly, we need to keep these surviving people in our prayers, and offer support if we can. Next, we need to educate ourselves on abuse and reach out to help people who may be afraid of someone who is hurting them, or threatening to hurt them, and help them get the resources they need to get out of the situation. We are the salon industry, we are powerful, we are able to reach people the way NO other industry can. Domestic violence happens everywhere, there are people living every day in fear. Find out what you can do to help. Go to cutitout.org and order the posters for your salon and the information cards to pass out. Crystal Focus is committed to supporting these efforts through putting the Cut It Out safety informaiton cards in all of our product orders, and we will continue to look for more ways to support this important message. Let's stand together, will you join us?"—Kristi Valenzuela, Crystal Focus Salon Coaching
"Let's unite as salon owners and systlis and have a national awareness day and make their salon the 'daymakers' of the year. I will have my two salons donate of 100 percent of what we generate that day and help that salon build a safe house for women."—Adrian Morris, Lemon Lime Salon, Falmouth, Massachusetts
"I just returned to the salon from an annual event, 'The Walk Against Violence,' which builds awareness of domestic violence and raises funds for our local crisis center. I cannot tell you how saddened I am to read of this horrific tragedy in Seal Beach. Here, in our local city we have the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, providing services to more than 3,000 women and children annually, who are victims of domestic violence. Twelve years ago, Interlocks Salon became a champion of their cause, raising awareness and funds, to support the work of the center. You can read about their ground-breaking work and their recent recognition by President Obama at jeannegeigercrisiscenter.org. My salon resides in an educated, affluent community, but domestic violence knows no socio-economic boundaries, nor is it specific to 'typical' victims—sadly, it affects 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 2 tennage girls. Here in Massachusetts our district attourney recently mailed packets to every salon in cour county titled, 'A Guide for Salon Professionals,' in an effort to build greater awareness of domestic violence. Our salon industry can play a valuable role in recognizing the signs of an abusive relationship, and offering information on receiving help. In our salon, we do this by displaying various types of information in discreet locations, such as our salon bathrooms and dressing rooms. Great information is available through the national organization 'Cut It Out,' for salon professions: cutitout.org. As a united industry, we do have the ability to make a difference."—Ginny Eramo, Interlocks Salon Spa in Newbury Port, Massachusetts.
"As crazy as it sounds, I haven't had a television for three months, as mine stopped working and I decided not to replace it since I hardly use it anyway. Life has been more stress-free, and to be honest, it hasn't been missed. The bad (but good) thing is, when a tragedy such as this happens, I don't know about it. Good, because the bad feelings and fear associated with such random and unjust action are usually unknown, and bad because life isn't always a euphoric experience and humanity isn't always good and that is reality. Awareness causes us to pray, to be sympathetic, and to take action when needed. In our industry being 'in the know' is sort of a requirement, since we visit with people all day; and that gives us the ability to find the positives, diffuse the drama, and to spread feelings of compassion and hope. It sounds like a powerful position. What if we made that our goal every single day?"—Donna Watkins, Hairy's Salon, Leanon, Missouri
"This is a terrible tragedy, and not unlike other events that have occurred in schools, grocery stores or churches. It is important for salons to remain a place where clients celebrate beauty and happiness. Stylists should be mindful of their conversations so that they are careful not to sensationalize the venue, but rather come together as a salon community to focus on the real issue of domestic violence, and not associate that experience with their livelihood."—Heather Bagby, Summit Salon Business Center
"There are times when our industry seems more like an extended family stretched across the world. The horrible incident at Salon Meritage in Califronia has brought us all closer together. My heart goes out to all of the people who were affected in any way. Please know that YOU are in our prayers. This is a sign of the volatile times we live in. Somthing like this horrendous event is happening every time you watch the news. It becomes a reminder to keep your eyes open and be aware of what is happening all around you. Today, we must leave our homes after hugging and expressing our love to all those who matter. We must remember to live our lives fully. We must make the most of each day and open up to help the people around us. These things help to create a gentler and more patient neighbor. We must all realize that we can work, live, love, laugh and coexist together in a positive way. I prayed it would never come to this. The salon is a place where all good thing happen. We have been stained by the way our world is now. Please join me in strengthening our industry by helping those around us live a better life. To Salon Meritage: I wish all of you the power to forgive and heal as quickly as possible. You are in my thoughts and prayers." —Geno Stampora, Stampora Consulting
"Alhough this terrible thing happened in a salon, it was unrelated to the primary victim's profession. It was a lunatic husband on a killing rampage whose wife could just as easily have been a postal worker, a welder, or a computer consultant. It especially hits all of us so hard because it was a salon, and I suspe t gives us cause to feel vulnerable in the course of our daily lives. In this case, it happened to pepole spending time in a salon...like so many of us every day. All of our hearts go out to the families of the victims, but do not let this random, senseless and terrible tragedy leave you, me or any of us in the industry in fear of our lives in the palces we love to work in every day."Alex Irving, Esche and Alexander Public Relations
"The business of beauty took a tragic hit with the shooting in Seal Beach. We are a community of professionals who touch people and now we grieve over the loss of colleagues and guests. Yes, it could have happened anywhere, but it happened in a professional salon and that makes it personal for all of us. What can we do? Place a black ribbon somewhere behind your front desk to show you know and care for the salon and for those who should be remembered."—Bart Foreman, Group 3 Marketing
"I first heard about this tragedy from one of our team members. She used to live in California and worked at a salon very near to the one where the tragedy happened. Of course, I was saddened, but more than that angry and confused. I just don't know what would possess someone to do such a thing. It makes me feel very protective over my staff and our clients and makes me want to comfort them even more when in our spaces. Life is tough and crazy and sometimes just too much—we all need comfort and I hope that the families of the people who lost their lives are able to find this in coming days."—Jason Hall, Red 7 Salon, Chicago, Illinois
"This is so horrific! As I read it to my team on the salon floor, everyone began to tear up. We are so close, I just can't imagine what these people and their families are going through. It makes me feel so grateful for the people I work with and the clients we serve."—Lauren Hart, The Root Salon, Phoenix, Arizona
"To the families and friends of those impacted by this tragedy, our heartfelt prayers are sent to you to lift you from despair. We are deeply saddened by your loss."—Geno and Cindy Levi and staff, Geno Levi Salon, McMurray, Pennsylvania
"This act of senseless killing of those innocent people was not only shameful, but frightful. As a salon owner, I set my obligations very high. I'm always concerned about the safety of my employees and my patrons. They are my family and my friends. My greatest feat is that some outrageous accident will occur and I have no control over the situation. To all of those people who were impacted by this senseless killing, my heart goes out to you. May you all find the strength to continue your lives in peace."—Debora Capaldi, Pucci Salon, Scottsdale, Arizona
As modernsalon.com and salontoday.com continue to report on this story, and its ramifications to the professional beauty industry, we welcome you to share your thoughts and prayers in the comment box below.