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Gov. Brown writes to Santa Monica College in wake of shooting

June 11, 2013|By Matt Stevens
  • Nate Edelson, 39, makes his own memorial sign Monday in front of the closed Santa Monica College Library to honor the victims of last week's deadly shooting rampage.
Nate Edelson, 39, makes his own memorial sign Monday in front of the closed… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

Gov. Jerry Brown sent his congratulations and condolences Tuesday to Santa Monica College, praising graduates for their achievements while also acknowledging that Friday’s mass shooting "cast a pall over what should have been a purely joyful day."

In a letter to college President Chui L. Tsang, Brown called the actions of gunman John Zawahri "senseless and violent."

"As we mourn those we have lost, let us also remember the bravery and professionalism of the police and others who responded, risking their own lives to save the lives of others," Brown said. "Their spirit of altruism and commitment to service can serve as an example to all of us as we work together to make the world a better place."

The letter, posted on the college's website, comes as graduates prepare for commencement proceedings Tuesday. But students will be turning their tassels just hours after another shooting blocks from campus. It was the city’s third shooting in five days.

On Friday, Zawahri killed his father, Samir, 55, and older brother, Christopher, 25, at their Yorkshire Avenue home before carjacking a motorist and forcing her at gunpoint to drive him to the campus.

Along the way he fired on other vehicles, including a sport utility vehicle carrying Santa Monica college groundskeeper Carlos Franco, 68, and his daughter, Marcela, 26. Both died.

Sunday afternoon, police said shots were fired at a man riding a bicycle along the 3000 block of Exposition Boulevard about a mile from the college campus. The cyclist was hit three times but remained in stable condition Tuesday, Santa Monica police Sgt. Richard Lewis said. Police were still searching for a suspect and Lewis said the incident was possibly gang-related.

On Tuesday morning, a suspect walked up to two men standing in the alley in the 1500 block of Michigan Avenue and opened fire about 8:15 a.m., Lewis said.

The suspect ran to a vehicle, believed to be a blue Infiniti, which was driven away westbound on Michigan. The victims, described as men 25 to 35 years old, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body, Lewis said. Paramedics took them to the trauma center, where one of the victims died Tuesday afternoon.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, SMC will hold its graduation ceremony, which will also be part memorial service for the victims of Friday’s rampage.


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