HEADLINE: Hundreds gather to remember victims of shooting at Santa Monica College
A large group of family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers gathered at Santa Monica College Monday night to remember the victims of Friday's shooting spree.
"Pain...", the only sob-buried word whispered by the son of Margarita Gomez, the last victim to be identified in the Santa Monica shooting that took the loves of five people. Gabriel stood with the rest of the family at the spot where the 67 year old Gomez lost her life Friday when a former student went on a yet-to-be-explained shooting spree. "She would recycle cans from the college for her church," says granddaughter Jeannette. "We needed to be here"; here, being a vigil at the school, where hundreds gathered, including the Franco family, which also lost Santa Monica College groundskeeper Carlos Franco, and his daughter Marcella, a student at CalState Dominguez Hills, working on her psychology degree. "We are with you", school officials telling the huge crowd, promising to help the families of all three victims with expenses.
Margarita was from Santa Monica. She was in her 60s and a fixture on the campus, usually collecting recyclables. She was not a student but was seen by many students.
Samir Zawahri, 55, the father of the gunman, owned the Santa Monica house where the violence began in a neighborhood tucked up against Interstate 10. He moved there with his wife and two sons in 1996 from an apartment across town, according to property records and neighbors. He and Randa Abdou, 54, married on New Year's Eve 1985, but the couple split up later, though the date of their divorce was not immediately clear from public records. Samir Zawahri bought the house from his ex-wife in 2002. Neighbors said one son lived at the house with the father and one lived with the mother in an apartment about two miles away.
Police said Chris Zawahri, 24, the older brother of the gunman, was in the Santa Monica house where the violence began. The gunman was a day shy of turning 24 when he went on the shooting spree, which makes the brother very close in age. A neighbor said that the brothers' parents split custody of their sons after going through a difficult divorce.
CARLOS NAVARRO FRANCO
Carlos Navarro Franco, 68, and his daughter Marcela, were the first people struck at Santa Monica College when the gunman opened fire on a Ford Explorer. The shooting immediately killed the elder Franco, who plowed through a brick wall into a faculty parking lot.
He was a groundskeeper at the college for 22 years.
"Carlos was a very, very hard worker," his supervisor Tom Corpus said in a statement. "Everything Carlos did was for the college and for his family."
The Santa Monica College Foundation has started the Carlos Franco Family Memorial Fund.
"Carlos was truly a family man," Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang wrote in a letter to the campus community. "He was a dedicated husband and father and an integral part of the Santa Monica College family. His dedicated work to the campus grounds was enjoyed by students and visitors for two decades. He will be sorely missed."
Marcela Franco, 26, was pursuing a degree in psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, where she was involved in campus activity, the university said.
Franco had signed up for summer classes at Santa Monica College, and went with her father to the campus Friday to purchase textbooks. She was gravely wounded in the shooting, was taken off life support at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on Sunday, her aunt Margaret Quinones-Perez said.
"Marcela and Carlos were very close," Perez said. "She was a daddy's girl, so the blessing is they went together."
The university is accepting donations to help support her family. To make a donation, please make checks payable to CSUDH Foundation/Marcela Franco Memorial, and mail to Marcela Franco Memorial, CSU Dominguez Hills Office of Development, 1000 E. Victoria St., Welch Hall A-425, Carson, CA 90747, or give online at www.csudh.edu/onlinegiving, and click on "Marcela Franco Memorial." Donations are not tax deductible.
Donations can be made to The Carlos Franco Family Memorial Fund and to The Margarita Gomez Family Memorial Fund online at http://foundation.smc.edu Or you can mail the donation to:
The Santa Monica College Foundation
1900 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405