PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY — A 16-year-old Samohi student was able to speak to police investigators Wednesday afternoon for the first time since he was shot multiple times in the upper torso on Tuesday.
Santa Monica police did not release what was said and continue their investigation.
The victim was transported to a local hospital Tuesday afternoon, where he underwent surgery for his injuries. As of Tuesday night, his condition was classified as “stable.”
The attack occurred at approximately 3:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon near the intersection of Pacific and Sixth streets, just blocks from Santa Monica and Olympic high schools.
Police say that two male Latinos exited a dark-colored sports utility vehicle and approached the victim on foot before firing multiple shots into the boy’s upper torso with a small-caliber handgun.
The two suspects, described as men in their 20s, ran back to their vehicle and fled southbound on either Fourth or Fifth streets after the shooting.
It’s the first shooting in Santa Monica since October 2010, said Sgt. Richard Lewis, spokesperson for the Santa Monica Police Department.
The investigation is ongoing. Those with additional information can call the SMPD at (310) 458-8495.
Few details are available about the young victim, except that he was a regular at the Pico Youth & Family Center, a nonprofit that provides afterschool programs to youth.
The shooting has sparked fear amongst the young people that frequent PYFC, said the center’s director, Oscar de la Torre, a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified Board of Education.
“They feel victimized,” de la Torre said. “It victimizes the entire youth community.”
The police have not determined if the shooting was gang-related, but given the part of Santa Monica where the victim lived, the way he was dressed and the fact that a shooting occurred two weeks ago in a neighboring city, it’s a possibility community leaders need to keep in mind, de la Torre said.
“The fear is that this can escalate, that the retaliation will go back and forth,” de la Torre said.
Staff from the PYFC and Virginia Avenue Park Teen Center met Wednesday afternoon to discuss strategies to keep kids safe. That includes making sure kids are not loitering outside, and having staff members be a presence outside of the center.
“It’s really about communication and rumor control, getting young people off of the street and making sure they’re not loitering or hanging out,” de la Torre said. “This happened in broad daylight, right after school.”
School officials sent out an e-mail to all parents informing them of what had happened, said Sandra Lyon, superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
Counseling support will be available to students that need help processing and coping with what happened, and administrators will be keeping an eye on the emotional climate at Samohi in case the event spurs any tensions between students, Lyon said.
Recognition of the shooting has already bubbled up within the community. Samohi sophomore Zaq Moul called for a moment of silence for the victim at a City Council meeting Tuesday night.
Moul has known the victim since elementary school, and their lockers are nearby. He described the victim as a nice person, with a ready smile.
“I saw him almost every day,” Moul said. “Then I get out of basketball practice, and I find out he was shot.”
City Hall and a number of community partners are working to address violence and other issues through the Youth Resource Team.
de la Torre, a member of the team, believes that the focus strayed from youth violence after the task force was formed.
“I hope this incident reinvigorates our resolve to address youth violence in a comprehensive manner,” de la Torre said.