The random shooting of strangers was supposed to happen far away, in places now dubbed Columbine, Aurora and Newtown.
Instead, the terror occurred Friday across the posh seaside city of Santa Monica.
"This is wild," said attorney Mark Adams, 62, of Santa Monica, staring at the burned bungalow that contained two bodies before a gunman went on a mile-long rampage that killed two more and injured five before he was shot down by police. "Santa Monica is a very safe, secure calm place.
"To think that a guy can grab a rifle and shoot (nine) people a few blocks from my house is mind-boggling."
Throughout the day, residents swung by to stare at the fire-damaged clapboard with the split-rail fence and a yard full of burned debris.
From the home at Yorkshire Street to the Santa Monica College campus, residents asked how a young man could obtain an assault rifle, then gun down random motorists and passer-by.
And how new California gun laws intended to quell such violence had failed to stop the random killing spree.
"You don't know what goes on inside peoples' homes," a woman with a Chihuahua said before scurrying away.
At Rae's Restaurant where the gunman had led a carjacked motorist onto Pico Boulevard, the shooting was the
talk of the 1950s-era diner. "Everyone's talking about it, everybody," said waitress Maria Medina, serving up some biscuits and gravy. "They're asking what happened. They're surprised. They've never seen something like this in Santa Monica."
Some, however, said the shooting rampage was just another normal day for Greater Los Angeles.
"It's a great city," said Santa Monica native Michael Lambert, 56, who lived two blocks away. "But lately there's been too much violence.
"It's a crazy, mixed-up world."
Farther up Pico, Jeanette Thompson sat on a curb, waiting for a ride. "I know there are terrorists trying to take over the world," she said. "And some of these killings are trying to tell you something."
Along the sidewalk, a resident practiced a golf swing in front of a car wash. The organic crowd flooded into a farmers market. Homeless residents muttered under their breaths.
Residents were still afraid, they said, even though the gunman was dead. They had heard what sounded like machine-gun fire. And had ducked to the ground for safety.
"I've been in Santa Monica 30 years and I've never seen nothin' like this," said Antonia McConnell, still clutching her smartphone while standing on the sidewalk. "Crazy. This is sad. I've been cryin' all night. It's frightening.
"We all thought it was terrorists, then we found out it was a domestic dispute. How could it have spilled over, up this street, to Santa Monica College? " People just don't shoot innocent people like this."
Meanwhile, Christian Altamirano shot a Jiffy Lube sign into the sky not far from where a bullet tore a chunk from the building.
"Thank God we didn't send one of our (sign) spinners out here," he said, not far from where city bus passengers were shot. "He could have caught some lead." ___