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Fifth Shooting Victim Was Familiar Face at Santa Monica College

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By Lookout Staff

June 11, 2013 -- Unlike most students at the Santa Monica College library Friday, Margarita Gomez wasn’t there to prepare for her finals when the gunman dressed in black and wielding a semi automatic weapon approached.

Gomez, 68, who was standing outside the library, was likely on campus, as she often was, to collect cans, when 23-year-old gunman John Zawahri stormed toward the library and shot her at the entrance.

Friends said Gomez, who lived across the street, always gave a portion of her earnings to charity, according to reports.

On Monday, Santa Monica Police confirmed that Gomez was the fifth – and likely final – victim in a shooting rampage that started in a house near the eastern edge of the city and ended at SMC’s Main Campus at 19th and Pico Boulevard.

“An SMC neighbor, Margarita was a familiar figure on campus, visiting frequently to collect and recycle discarded items,” said SMC President Chui L. Tsang.

“Margarita was well-liked by the SMC groundskeepers, students, faculty, and staff that she interacted with, and who remember her as someone who was always happy,” Tsang said.

Shortly after shooting Gomez, Zawahri would enter the library and open fire, shooting some 70 rounds before being gunned down by police and bringing an end to the violent rampage that started at his father's house less than a mile away, where he fatally shot his brother, Chris, and his father, Samir.

SMC groundskeeper Carlos Franco and his daughter Marcela, who were exiting the college parking lot at 20th and Pearl streets would be Zawahri's third and fourth victims.

“Carlos was truly a family man,” said Tsang of the 68-year-old groundskeeper. “He was a dedicated husband and father and an integral part of the Santa Monica College family.”

Franco's supervisor Tom Corpus said, “Carlos was a very, very hard worker. He loved his job. He tried to make people happy and make sure he did the best job he could.

“He was just a great asset to the college,” Corpus said. “Everything Carlos did was for the college and for his family."

Franco was at the campus with his 26-year-old daughter, who died of her injuries Sunday at the Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center.

“A student at CSU Dominguez Hills, Marcela was with her father on the SMC campus to purchase textbooks for summer classes,” Sang said.

Carols is survived by his wife Ramona, an employee of Saint John’s Hospital Child Study Center, and his daughter, Leticia.

“Carlos’ extended SMC family includes nephew Mario Franco, student Services Specialist Sandra Franco and Board of Trustee Member Margaret Quiñones-Pérez,” Tsang said.

The Santa Monica College Foundation has established a memorial fund honoring Carlos Franco.

To donate to The Carlos Franco Family Memorial Fund, visit or mail donations to: The Santa Monica College Foundation 1900 Pico Boulevard Santa Monica, CA 90405.

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