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Community Gathers to Remember Santa Monica Shooting Victims

Family members of the shooting victims join community members at a vigil at Santa Monica College.

Family members of Margarita Gomez, one of five victims of Friday's shootings in Santa Monica, gather at a makshift memorial on the campus of Santa Monica College Monday evening. Photo Credit John Schreiber
Family members of Margarita Gomez, one of five victims of Friday's shootings in Santa Monica, gather at a makshift memorial on the campus of Santa Monica College Monday evening. Photo Credit John Schreiber

This post was reported by Erika Maldonado.

Family members of three people killed in Friday’s shooting spree joined hundreds of community members Monday for a candlelight vigil at Santa Monica College. A procession led by more than 20 clergy members from different denominations began at 6 p.m. on the steps of the library and culminated on the Corsair Stadium field. 

Directly across from the library steps where Margarita Gomez was killed, her older sister, Luisa Gomez, adjusted the collection of candles and flowers laid across the front of a recycle bin before the vigil began. 

"Too much," she said, placing her hands over her heart. "I love her too much.”

Margarita Gomez, 68, frequented the campus to collect recyclables and was the fifth victim to be identified.

When Luisa Gomez heard the description released of the woman who was shot on campus, she had a feeling it was her sister. The women talked on the phone twice a day, and Margarita would always mention how many cans she collected, Luisa Gomez said.

SMC student Gloria Castellanos joined the procession to support the family of two people killed Friday: college groundskeeper Carlos Franco and his daughter Marcela Franco.

“Everyone knew him on campus as Mr. Franco. He always had a smile on his face and was a very dedicated man. In our hearts, Marcela and Carlos will always be,” Castellanos said. 

At Corsair Field, Ramona Franco, widow and mother of the victims, sat surrounded by family members carrying framed photos of the father and daughter. Attendees stood in silence in between songs performed by Theatre Arts department chair Pervis Sawoski and chemistry professor Muriel Walker Waugh and various speakers. 

“The loss is too much for any one of us to bear alone. We will heal together as a community. Together, we open our hearts to one another, we hold our hands together, we move forward together. We work together and we will not forget the loved ones that we have lost,” Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor said.

Attendees sang “Amazing Grace” and closed the event by embracing one another. 

Graduating student Clinton Johnson tried to remain positive. While on his way to campus Friday afternoon to pick up his cap and gown, he said he heard of the shooting and learned that a few of his close friends had shooter John Zawahri’s gun pointed at them. 

“We need to remember the positive things that have happened at SMC and the community we’ve built here. We need to celebrate all of the lives that were lost and all of the people dealing with trauma. We have to celebrate so we don’t allow [Zawahri] to win,” said Johnson.  

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