PICO BLVD — The family of one of the victims killed during the violent shooting rampage June 7 is reaching out to the community to help defray the unexpected cost of the funeral, which they believe could hit $20,000.
Gabriel Torres set up the fundraiser on GoFundMe.com, a site that allows people to donate to causes unlike others which require a tangible product or outcome.
The money will pay to bury Margarita Gomez, the fifth victim in a 13-minute shooting rampage that left six dead, including the shooter.
Gomez, 68, was collecting recyclables at Santa Monica College just after noon when John Zawahri came through the campus, a semiautomatic rifle in hand.
He shot her in the abdomen and the chest, wounds that would ultimately kill her.
Gomez was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and moved to the United States over 40 years ago. She lived in the same apartment, near 19th Street and Pico Boulevard, for 28 years, Torres said.
Though retired in her later years, Gomez wanted to stay active, and escaped her apartment to go on missions to collect recycling from faculty and students at the local college and at the police department.
She donated the money to Virginia Avenue Park and Saint Anne’s Church, the two places she spent most of her free time, Torres said.
The work was as much therapeutic as altruistic — Gomez had diabetes, and needed to keep moving to keep from getting stiff, Torres said.
When news of the shooting came down, media broadcast that a “lady collecting recyclables” was involved. Torres immediately became nervous.
“I had a gut feeling that something was going on,” Torres said Wednesday.
The intervening days after the shooting have been filled with preparations — visits to the cemetery and to the Airport Courthouse on La Cienega Boulevard to deal with the heavy tasks that the dead leave behind for the living.
The costs associated with the funeral have been shocking for Torres and his family.
“You have a family member who is sick, you prepare for it,” he said. “With something like what happened to my mom … , it’s an unexpected item. We’re unprepared, financially.”
Torres has had some success with the fundraiser, raising over $7,500 of the $20,000 goal in just three days. If community members would like to contribute, they can visit www.gofundme.com/margaritagomez.