SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — The innocent lives lost in the Santa Monica shooting rampage were remembered at a vigil held on Monday.
A memorial has been set up on Santa Monica College’s campus, just feet away from where gunman John Zawahri opened fire on and killed 68-year-old Margarita Gomez, who was identified as the fifth victim of the tragedy.
Gomez’ family explains that Margarita was not a student, but collected recyclables from trash cans on campus, and gave her profits to her church.
“She thought coming to the college, to campus, that it was going to be safer for her,” Gomez’ niece Erica Lares said. “But apparently it was wrong.”
Police say that Zawahri was a student at Santa Monica College in 2010 and was in the Academy of Entertainment Arts program.
The campus re-opened on Monday to increased security as students returned to take their final exams.
The procession was led by the family of father-and-daughter victims Marcela and Carlos Franco, but were reportedly too overwhelmed with grief to speak.
Marcela, 26, who was a senior at CSU Dominguez Hills and was a psychology major, was buying books for summer classes with her father, Carlos, 68, who was a groundskeeper at Santa Monica College.
California State University Dominguez Hills is reportedly accepting donations to help support Marcela and Carlos’ family.
“As a campus community, our thoughts, prayers, and sympathies are with the Franco family and all the victims and family affected by this senseless act of violence,” CSU Dominguez Hills President Willie J. Hagan said. “Finding the right words or actions to express the most heartfelt response to such unthinkable tragedy is not easy, but given Marcela’s direct ties to CSU Dominguez Hills, our hope is this gesture from the university community can, in some way, help her loved ones during this difficult time.”
Authorities are saying that Zawahri used an AR-15 assault rifle, loaded with 1,500 rounds, and are investigating how he may have obtained the weapon and ammunition.