Shooting victim was ‘part of the Santa Monica College family’


For 22 years, Carlos Navarro Franco tended the grounds of Santa Monica College. An immigrant from Mexico, he was proud that his hard work helped plant the seeds for his children’s education.

His youngest daughter, Marcela, 26, was studying psychology and was signed up to take summer classes at the college.

On Friday, father was driving daughter to buy books for those classes on campus when a gunman fired at their red SUV.


Carlos, 68, died at the scene. Marcela was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where she is in critical condition.

Ramona Franco, Carlos’ wife, has been at her daughter’s side at the hospital. She came home to the family apartment briefly around 3 a.m. Saturday to freshen up before rushing back, said Ramona’s stepbrother John Sanchez, who lives in the apartment below.

“It’s too much,” Sanchez said, his eyes tearing up, of the loss his stepsister has endured.

Carlos and Ramona had three children. Their eldest daughter is Leticia, 32.

Two summers ago, their middle child, also named Carlos, was killed in a car accident.

On Saturday, the small, two-story apartment building where the family lived in the Sawtelle section of L.A. was a place of grief and prayer, with relatives and friends coming and going, many asking for the latest news about Marcela.

Sanchez said she was not expected to survive. He described her as “full of life” and “bubbly … always smiling.”

Sanchez said he had not heard anything about the Santa Monica shootings until a neighbor told him when he got home from work on Friday. The story quickly became personal when he turned on the news and recognized his brother-in-law’s car.


On Saturday, the college’s president, Chui L. Tsang, sent a letter to the college community about the Franco family.

“Carlos was truly a family man,” Tsang wrote. “He was a dedicated husband and father and an integral part of the Santa Monica College family. His dedicated work to the campus grounds was enjoyed by students and visitors for two decades. He will be sorely missed.”

Several of Carlos Franco’s relatives also work at the college. His nephew, Mario Franco, is a member of the college’s Workforce and Economic Development Department.

In a telephone interview, Mario said he grew closer to his uncle after the younger Carlos died. His uncle was a fan of the Chivas soccer team of Guadalajara, and the two of them bonded over soccer, he said.

“Everything he did was for his daughters,” Mario Franco said. “He was very, very loving. He would drive them everywhere.”


Times staff writers Nita Lelyveld and Anh Do contributed to this report.