Seal Beach police have identified the suspect in a salon shooting massacre that left eight people dead and one critically wounded.

Police Sgt. Steve Bowles says 42-year-old Scott Evans Dekraai of Huntington Beach was arrested Wednesday and booked on suspicion of murder.

Police say Dekraai was stopped by officers about a half-mile away from the shooting scene at Salon Meritage and surrendered without incident.

Friends of the salon owner said the Dekraai was the ex-husband of a stylist who worked there. 

Bowles would only say, "There may be something to the motive as to a relationship with somebody in the salon, that is our assumption." He declined to elaborate later.

Shortly after Dekraai's arrest, police arrived at a house on Melody Lane in nearby Huntington Beach.

They escorted two women to a white car and then roped off the house with crime scene tape. 

Neighbors identified photos of the alleged shooter as their neighbor Scott. The house is registered to Scott Dekraai, and one of the licensed cosmetologists at the salon was Michelle Dekraai.

Kari Salveson of Los Alamitos, who attended a service for the victims at SeaCoast Grace Church in Seal Beach, said she had known Michelle Dekraai for several years and was aware that she and her ex-husband were involved in a bitter custody dispute over their son.

She said Michelle Dekraai made her every visit to the salon special.

"She could gab away. She was one of those girlfriends you could never get enough of. She made you smile and she made you laugh," Salveson said.

In Huntington Beach, people were shocked to learn that one of the friendliest men in the neighborhood had been arrested for the shootings.

Dekraai's neighbors described him as a friendly man who invited them over for pool parties at the house he'd lived in for about six years. They said he doted on his son, playing catch with the boy in his yard.

Neighbors said they were aware Dekraai was in a custody battle with his ex-wife over their son, who neighbors said is 7 or 8 years old.

"It was a very difficult battle and he was trying to get more time with his son," said Jo Cornhall, who lives across the street from Dekraai.

In all, one man and five women died at the salon, one man and one woman died after being transported to a nearby hospital, and one woman remained in critical condition late Wednesday.

Authorities did not immediately release the names of the victims. 

A middle-aged woman, who would only give her first name as "Cindy," told The Los Angeles Times that patrons thought the popping was firecrackers.

"But he just didn't stop. Anybody he saw he was shooting," she told the paper. "It went boom, boom, boom. I was afraid he was going to shoot everybody."

"We're unsure at this point if he shot from the entrance and people, as they were shot, ran in seeking cover or seeking shelter, but we have fatalities throughout the salon," Bowles told reporters at a news conference outside the business. "From my observation, it did look like people were seeking shelter at the time."

The shooting was reported at 1:21 p.m. local time at the quiet, beach front city about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The city had only one homicide last year and none during the previous three years, according to statistics compiled by the Police Department.

"It just caught everyone off guard and people started running outside to see what was happening," Zach Benson, who was working at a nearby restaurant, told KNBC-TV. "It was a very bizarre scene."

Several visibly distressed people stood near the scene talking on cell phones or to police. They declined to be interviewed.

"All I heard was a siren and then after that one of my co-workers got a phone call from her nephew. He was outdoors when the suspect got into his truck and took off," said Cindy Spinosa, 51, who works at a nearby business.

"It's a little disarming," she said. "This is such a quiet community. We don't expect things like this."

The Associated Press and Newscore contributed to this report.