SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KTLA) — The violent shootings in Santa Monica prompted security concerns at Santa Monica College’s graduation on Tuesday.
Dozens of officers patrolled the area before, during, and after the 6 p.m. ceremony. The graduation went off without trouble, however, there was some anxiety in the crowd.
“A lot of people didn’t want to show up today,” graduate Gaby Rodriguez said. “They’re worried about what could happen because of the shooting on Friday.”
Just days earlier, bullets sliced through the air on campus. Rodriguez said she was nearly caught in the gunfire.
John Zawahri, 23, was armed to the teeth when he went on a murderous path, according to police.
He killed five people before he was gunned down by officers inside Santa Monica College’s library.
“I feel sad for those who suffered,” one graduating student said.
“On campus, it’s been very somber since then,” anthropology graduate Robert Contreras said.
For those who died, a moment of silence brought the ceremony to a quiet halt.
Speakers assured the graduates that what they had been given in school was stronger than any gun.
“Education is the greatest weapon you can use to change this world,” Santa Monica Church Pastor Lloyd Torgerson said, speaking up on stage during the ceremony.
With the hopes and dreams of those who died pushing them onward, the graduates knew they had more purpose than ever.
“The best thing that you can do is just keep moving on with your life and go on from there,” Contreras said.
“Everyone has motivation to keep going for those that were lost,” Rodriguez added
Santa Monica College’s president announced memorial funds set up in honor of the Franco family and Margarita Gomez. Those victims all had ties to the school.
The president said he hoped it would give the families some peace.