I walked to the site where Juan Sebastian Castillo's body was found at 5 am on Sunday.
Flowers and candles mark the ground where he lay on 16th Street, one hundred feet south of Arizona Avenue. Two blue star-shaped helium balloons wave in the breeze, anchored by a framed photo of Juan.
At the corner of Arizona and 16th, occupying a full square block, sits UCLA-Santa Monica Hospital.
Probably Juan was dropped here instead of taken to the ER because those who brought him did not want to be questioned by the police.
I felt such sadness for Juan and his family.
A tall, husky football player, he lost all his future years.
May he rest in peace.
May violence be stopped in Santa Monica.
May his family be comforted.
May his older brother, a student at San Francisco State University, be a man of peace and a support to his parents.
A few years ago some friends and I set up a scholarship as one step toward preventing violence in Santa Monica.
The Katherine McTaggart Scholarship for Violence Prevention is awarded each year to a graduate of Santa Monica High School who demonstrates an interest in violence prevention, shows resilience, and plans to attend college. He or she must have financial need as well as academic proficiency.
Kathy was a counselor at Santa Monica HS who worked with high-risk and gang-involved students. She was also a therapist, and community activist in fighting violence.
She died in 2012 as a result of non small-cell lung cancer, never having smoked. The scholarship continues in her memory.
If you would like to contribute to violence prevention in memory of Juan Castillo, please send a check to Samohi Scholarship Fund c/o Julie Honda, Santa Monica High School, 601 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica CA 90405. Your check is tax-deductible.
Or contribute to Juan's GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/justice-for-juan-castillo