In response to a recent rash of shootings that have left seven dead in five days in the Pico Neighborhood, community members are organizing a vigil and peace march this Sunday and are encouraging all residents to participate.

The bloody June 7 shooting rampage that resulted in the deaths of six people, including the shooter, was followed by two attacks that left a resident dead and two others with serious injuries.

Organizers said the June 11 shooting in which 29-year-old Gil Verastegui was killed marked the 49th time since 1989 that “a family has suffered a loss due to homicide in Santa Monica, the majority of these homicides occurring within an eight-block ‘red zone’ in the Pico Neighborhood.”

The Santa Monica Vigil for Peace & Healing will begin at 6 p.m. at the corner of Kansas and Yorkshire avenues, the focal point for the Friday shooting rampage that ended at Santa Monica College. Organizers plan to follow a route which will memorialize the fallen and bring healing to the community, they said.

“Although we have reduced gang and youth violence in recent years, the incidents of the past few days are a wake up call that our city must not regress in its effort to address youth and gang violence,” said Santa Monica-Malibu Unified Board of Education member Oscar de la Torre, who is the former executive director of the Pico Youth & Family Center (PYFC).

PYFC is a sponsor of the vigil along with Saint Anne’s Catholic Church and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice.

“We invite residents, youth, clergy, parents and community leaders from Santa Monica and beyond to support our movement for peace, unity and social justice. We cannot let the tragic death of our community members happen without a renewed commitment to building a safer community,” said Francisco Juarez, PYFC board member.


— Kevin Herrera

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