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Santa Monica College sets up memorial funds for shooting victims

June 11, 2013|By Kate Mather and Frank Shyong
  • Carlos Navarro Franco and his daughter, Marcela, who were shot on the Santa Monica campus.
Carlos Navarro Franco and his daughter, Marcela, who were shot on the Santa… (Franco family )

Santa Monica College has set up memorial funds for three of five people killed in last week’s shooting rampage across the city, officials announced Tuesday.

In messages posted on the college’s website, Santa Monica College President Chui Tsang announced the Margarita Gomez Family Memorial Fund and the Carlos Franco Family Memorial Fund; both were fatally shot Friday on campus.

Franco’s daughter, Marcela Franco, 26, also was gunned down. The two other victims were relatives of the shooter, John Zawahri, 26, who was fatally shot by police at the college library.

Gomez, 68, was shot by Zawahri outside the library as she was collecting cans for recycling.

Gomez spent Thursday mornings with the Senior Latino Club at Virginia Avenue Park, just a few blocks from her home. The group gathers to eat lunch and play bingo and raises money for charity organizations.

Although she didn’t have much money herself, Gomez “was always willing to help,” group member Margarita Lopez said.

Each month, Gomez would bring a plastic bag of pennies and nickels for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The donation -- 50 cents from Gomez and 50 cents from her sister -- came from her recycling money, Lopez said.

Gomez brought her last bag of coins to the club the day before she was killed.

“I couldn't even count the coins because it was so touching,” Lopez said. “But that's the way she was.”

Margaret Quinones-Perez, a Santa Monica College trustee and aunt of Marcela Franco, said her niece was outgoing and curious.

"To us she was radiant, so beautiful and sassy," Quinones-Perez said.

She described Carlos Franco, a groundskeeper at the college, as a man who took great pride in providing for his family. He rarely showed emotion, said Quinones-Perez, preferring instead to show love by putting food on the dinner table and paying college tuitions.

“I think it’s really important that people really get to know the victims and how they were just very dignified, normal people doing what everyone else does in society to better themselves,” she said.

Proceeds from the memorial funds will go directly to the families, school officials said.

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kate.mather@latimes.com

frank.shyong@latimes.com

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