Scott Evans Dekkrai, 42, seen here in this YouTube clip, is the suspected gunman, described as "nice" by some.

LOS ANGELES, October 13, 2011 (AFP) – The man accused of shooting eight people dead in a California hair salon suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after a boating accident, his doctor said according to Thursday’s LA Times newspaper.

Scott Dekraai, 42, was arrested shortly after the shootings Wednesday at the Salon Meritage in the quiet resort town of Seal Beach south of Los Angeles. The attack also left one person critically injured.

Dekraai’s ex-wife Michelle Fournier – described as “fun-loving” and “outgoing” – worked at the ocean-front hair salon, and is believed to be among the victims of what is being described as the worst mass shooting on record in Orange County.

In divorce court papers, Dekraai’s doctor Ronald Silverstein had diagnosed him with stress disorder in September 2008, following a fatal tugboat accident, the Times reported.

In the February 2007 accident Dekraai witnessed the death of a young deckhand, crushed by a rope attached from the tug to a barge. Dekraai himself was left permanently disabled, according to his former employer.

“Up until the accident he was heavy into fishing and watersports like surfing and boogie boarding,” said Don Ashley, owner of Pierpoint Landing in Long Beach, where Dekraai worked for 10 years.

“The last four or five years, he was pretty miserable,” he added.

Dekraai split from his wife, and the couple fought over custody of their son, who was eight at the time of their separation, and to whom he was very attached.

In the court documents his doctor noted that repeated phone calls from his ex-wife were “extremely stressful” and “not healthy” for Dekraai, and were therefore limited to one call a week.

“Michelle (had a) fun-loving, outgoing personality,” said Ashley. “She was a hairdresser, and you pretty much have to be outgoing to be a hairdresser.”

He insisted that Dekraai was happy before the accident.

“Everybody loved him. If you asked me a hundred people and gave me from a scale of one to 10 who would be most likely to flip, he wouldn’t have been there,” Ashley said.

“He was a nice person. It’s hard to say that, and everybody’s going to say, ‘What the hell, you’re standing up for a mass killer,’ but he had a nice personality,” he added.