SANTA MONICA ( — Residents of Santa Monica are staying calm despite a recent wave of violence in the quiet seaside community.

Just last week, city leaders and law enforcement touted the area’s crime stats.

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Overall crime was down 9 percent, aggravated assaults were down 26 percent and three homicides were reported since 2011.

Then, on Friday, John Zawahri, 23, killed five people, including his father and brother, during a shooting spree on and near the campus of Santa Monica College.

On Sunday, a 32-year-old bicyclist was shot along the 2900 block of Exposition Boulevard. He was in stable condition Tuesday.

Police were looking for Levy Ernesto Rodriguez, 24, in connection to the incident.

On Tuesday, two men were shot in an alley in the 1500 block of Michigan Avenue.

One of the victims, 29-year-old Gil Verastegui, died. The other man remains in critical condition.

Three people were later arrested for being involved in the shooting.

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Authorities said the shootings, two of which were possibly gang-related, were located in one area of Santa Monica called the Pico neighborhood.

“It’s not Santa Monica-like. They were things beyond control of anybody,” said police Sgt. Richard Lewis. “They’re not random crimes. They’re specific crimes. They were targeted people. At least in the last two shootings. As far as it is for our citizens, our community, the people who work here, enjoy here and travel here, they’re absolutely safe.”

KCAL9’s Dave Lopez spoke to a number of people who tried to put the situation in perspective.

“It’s a safe city. Bad things can happen anywhere,” a man said.

“You have to live your life, buy your eggs, make your food and be happy,” said a woman.

“It’s a metropolitan city. It happens,” said a man.


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