Man told wife ‘I love you’ before Santa Monica College shooting

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Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times

Marcela Franco is shown with her father, Carlos Franco, in a family photograph. Both were killed in the Santa Monica College shooting rampage.

Marcela Franco is shown with her father, Carlos Franco, in a family photograph. Both were killed in the Santa Monica College shooting rampage.

Moments before a gunman wearing body armor sprayed Carlos Franco’s SUV will bullets, killing him and his daughter, Franco left his wife a voicemail.

“I’m running a little late,” Franco said in the message. “But I want you to know that I still love you.”

At a vigil Sunday night, family and friends of Franco, 68, and his daughter Marcela Franco, 26, remembered the dedicated family man and his daughter, who aspired to be a clinical psychologist.

“To us, she was radiant, so beautiful and sassy,” said Margaret Quinones-Perez, the girl’s aunt.

She said Marcela Franco, who was planning on taking summer classes at the school, was known to greet strangers with a disarming smile and a series of penetrating questions.

“She was smart, obviously really pretty, and just very loving,” said Marcela Franco’s boyfriend, Ryan Payne, 26. They had been dating exclusively for only about a month, but “it’s been the best month of my life,” he said.

Carlos Franco was a groundskeeper at the school. Family said he rarely showed emotion, preferring instead to show love by putting food on the dinner table and paying college tuitions.

The father and daughter were killed Friday when, for reasons still unclear, John Zawahri, 23, armed himself with an AR-15 and a bag full of ammunition and went on a shooting rampage across Santa Monica, killing five people, including his brother and father.

The fifth victim has yet to be publicly identified.

On Monday, students and faculty returned to the scene of last week’s grisly attack.

All buildings at the school were open except the library, where police shot and killed Zawahri.

A vigil is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday in front of the library, and graduation is expected to go on as scheduled Tuesday, school officials said.

“We look forward to this wonderful ceremony and time of family pride,” the college’s president, Chui L. Tsang, said in a statement. “We hope you can join us if you have not already made plans to do so. Thank you again for your patience, your resilience, and your strength.”

The rampage lasted about 10 minutes, officials said, beginning just before noon Friday at a Yorkshire Avenue home, where Zawahri killed his brother, Chris, 25, and his father, Samir, 55.

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