Vigil Held for Santa Monica Victims; Gunman’s Mother Speaks
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KTLA) — Hundreds of people gathered Monday evening for a vigil at Santa Monica College to honor those killed in last week’s shooting rampage.
Right outside the library where police ended suspected shooter John Zawahri’s violent spree, mourners lit candles to try to brighten up the horror that happened in the community.
The number of victims killed in the rampage increased to five on Sunday.
Marcela Franco, 26, died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica College officials announced.
Franco had just enrolled at the school for summer classes, according to authorities.
She and her father, Carlos Navarro Franco, 68, a longtime groundskeeper at the college, were shot while inside the father’s SUV in a parking lot on the campus.
He was reportedly taking his daughter to the college bookstore to buy textbooks at the time.
The mother of the 23-year-old suspected gunman released a statement on Monday through her neighbor expressing “great sadness.”
“As may be assumed, I am in mourning for my family and those who were also affected by this horrific tragedy over the past few days,” Randa Abdou said.
“I cannot express my great sadness for the families who are also suffering at this terrible time,” she said.
“I do ask the media to please give me time to grieve and come to grips with the overwhelming sorrow. This has befallen all of us.”
The rampage began around noon on Friday, at the home of Abdou’s former husband, 55-year-old Samir Zawahri.
Zawahri and the couple’s son, 25-year-old Christopher were shot to death. Their home was then set on fire.
The suspect then shot and wounded a woman who driving by, police said.
He then carjacked a woman at gunpoint and forced her to drive to Santa Monica college, according to police. She was not injured.
Along the way, Zawahri allegedly fired at a city bus traveling down Cloverfield Boulevard near Pico Boulevard. Three people suffered minor injuries.
Then, the gunman allegedly fired at the Franco’s SUV, which crashed into a parking-lot wall.
An unidentified woman in her 50s was shot and killed outside the library on campus.
Zawahri then made his way into the library, where he took aim at students, firing at least 70 rounds, police said.
Zawahri was shot and killed by police officers at the library.
The gunman was armed with more than three dozen large-capacity ammunition magazines, sources familiar with the investigation told the L.A. Times.
The ammunition was strapped to his body — including his chest and thighs — as well as in pouches in his clothing and protective vest. More ammunition was found in a black bag.
According to the Times, Zawahri had approximately 40 magazines each capable of holding 30 bullets.
The motive behind the shootings remained under investigation, but law enforcement sources said Zawahri had struggled over his parents’ bitter divorce several years ago.
He also had a history of mental issues, sources said, including a short hospitalization.
The 6 p.m. graduation ceremony on Tuesday at SMC’s Corsair Field will also be part memorial service for the Franco family.
A memorial fund has been set up for the family by the college.
Donations can be made via the college website or by mail to the Santa Monica College Foundation, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica 90405.