PICO BLVD — The Pico Youth and Family Center will hold a car wash Saturday to help the families of two young men who were killed at a party last weekend.
The organization will then honor the pair during its annual Día de los Muertos — or Day of the Dead — march, in which its membership remembers all of Santa Monica’s young people who have been killed by gun violence.
Michael Blom, 17, and Phillip Rodriguez, 24, were both shot while at a party in a warehouse on the 13100 block of Yukon Avenue in Hawthorne, Calif.
Blom died at the scene. Rodriguez was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department website, there are no suspects at this time, although detectives do believe that the incident was gang-related.
That leaves their families with up to $12,000 each to pay for funeral-related services, which is why PYFC is stepping in to help raise money to defray the costs, said Oscar de la Torre, founder of PYFC.
“It’s tragic,” de la Torre said. “These were popular kids, a lot of people knew them. … As you can imagine, there’s a lot of anguish, hurt and sadness.”
Both Blom and Rodriguez attended schools in Santa Monica, although Rodriguez’ family left Santa Monica a long time ago, de la Torre said.
Blom attended Edison Language Academy, John Adams Middle School and then Santa Monica High School, but struggled academically as a result of absences.
He came back and attended Olympic High School, where in 2010 he was placed in Chris Thobe’s independent study classroom.
The first time, it was for a short six weeks in 2010, but Blom became a consistent member of the class during his senior year, Thobe said.
Blom was behind in the credits he needed to graduate, but he applied himself and was able to graduate from Samohi with the people he’d grown up with.
He was joyous when he found out that he would be able to walk the stage, Thobe said.
“He was really trying to reinvent himself,” she said.
Blom would have turned 18 on Nov. 2.
He was looking forward to adulthood and all the trappings that came with it, like a college education, a good job and children, de la Torre said.
Blom is survived by his parents and two younger siblings.
The PYFC car wash will take place at the center at 715 Pico Blvd. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cars will be washed by donation.
The Día de los Muertos march will begin at 6:30 p.m. at St. Anne Catholic Church & Shrine at 2011 Colorado Ave. Marchers will follow the path set in the 1998 thousand-person peace march, which traveled along 20th Street to Delaware Avenue. It ends at 16th Street and Delaware Avenue.
Donations to the two families can be made at a number of local restaurants and organizations in town, including the Pico Youth and Family Center and Virginia Avenue Park Teen Center.
Checks can also be mailed to P.O. Box 5273, Santa Monica, Calif., 90405.