Father, Daughter Among Santa Monica Rampage Victims

"She was a daddy's girl, so the blessing is that they went together," aunt says

Marcela Franco, 26, went with her father, Carlos, to pick up psychology textbooks from Santa Monica College on Friday.

They were running late, so Carlos Franco, 68, called his wife to let her know. Her voicemail picked up. The usually reserved man didn't often tell his wife he loved her; he showed his love for his family through his hard work as a groundskeeper for the college. This time, he spoke the words into the phone.

He began driving away from the college, his youngest daughter in the passenger seat of his red SUV.

A spray of bullets tore through the car.

They were among the victims of a 23-year-old man's shooting rampage through Santa Monica on Friday that left five dead before police killed him on the college campus. Carlos and Marcela appeared to have been shot at random.

Carlos died at the scene. Marcela, who was in love and dreamed of being a clinical psychologist, was shot multiple times in the head.

Her mother and surviving relatives chose to take her off of life support on Sunday morning at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

The father and daughter were close, said Marcela's aunt, Margaret Quinones-Perez.

"She was a daddy's girl," Quinones-Perez said. "So the blessing is that they went together."

Quinones-Perez, flanked by several other relatives, told the family's story and asked for help. They needed donations to bury Carlos and Marcela "with dignity and honor."

Carlos had worked long beyond retirement age to support his wife and daughters. He tended to the grounds of Santa Monica College with a strong work ethic, Quinones-Perez said.

"When the community came (to the college), they came with their kids and their picnic baskets, and they could see Carlos's work everywhere. And that's where Carlos is," she said. "This world is going to miss Marcela Franco and Carlos Franco, who are decent, loving, committed people."

The family spent Friday and Saturday, and Sunday morning, beside Marcela's hospital bed, surrounding her "like a cocoon," she said.

Marcela's mother received a shred of comfort during that agonizing time at her daughter's bedside.

As she waited in vain for her daughter to wake, to stir, to give her reason to hope, she took a moment to check her voicemail.

It was Carlos' voice.

"I'm running late," he said. "But you know I love you."

The Santa Monica College Foundation has established a memorial fund honoring Carlos Franco.

Donations can be made to The Carlos Franco Family Memorial Fund.

Or by mail to: The Santa Monica College Foundation
1900 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405

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