The parents of two Japanese students killed in an apparent carjacking in San Pedro almost one year ago visited the area this week to attend memorial services for their sons and to push for stricter gun control.
Marymount College students Takuma Ito and Go Matsuura, both 19, were shot last March when they stopped at a Ralphs supermarket in San Pedro.
"They loved this United States and this college," said Shuji Matsuura, Go's father, after a classroom was dedicated in the students' honor Tuesday at the college in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Marymount President Thomas M. McFadden will accompany Matsuura and his wife, Machiko, and Akihiro and Rumiko Ito on a visit to the White House today to meet with a representative of the Clinton Administration, McFadden said.
The parents say they will present the White House with a petition signed by 500,000 people in Japan who want the United States "to strengthen control over the wanton use of guns." They said another 100,000 signatures were lost in the recent earthquake that hit Kobe, Japan.
Up to 300 students and faculty members at Marymount also have signed the petition, McFadden said.
"They want their son's death to contribute to gun control and safety for everyone," said McFadden, gesturing to the Matsuuras, "but especially for international students."
Ito was a Japanese citizen, and Matsuura was a U.S. citizen born in Japan. Their deaths were heralded in Japan as an example of violence in the United States.
Raymond Oscar Butler, 18, is awaiting trial on murder charges in connection with the slayings. (This past weekend, Butler was one of three Men's Central Jail inmates accused of stabbing a fellow inmate to death.)