On Saturday night, March 5, just after 11 p.m., a private party held at the Moose Lodge in Santa Monica was disrupted by gunshots, then shattered by the deaths of two young men. According to Santa Monica police, the shots were fired after an apparent argument amongst “several subjects” at the lodge, located at 1600 Ocean Park Boulevard. Three people were shot inside the rented hall. Jonathan Hernandez, 19, and Hector Bonilla, 25, were pronounced dead at the scene. A third victim, whose identity has not been not released, was transported to a local hospital and treated for a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the leg. Although a press release from the City of Santa Monica regarding the incident calls the deaths of the young men “gang-related,” Santa Monica Police Department Public Information Officer, Lt. Frank Fabrega stated that the shootings should not be assumed to be gang activity. “We have not determined that to be the case at this time,” he told the Mirror. When contacted on Tuesday, March 8, Fabrega was reluctant to share any new details regarding the shootings, stating, “the investigation is very much ongoing, and we would hate to … compromise it in any way.” SMPD detectives are in the process of interviewing the approximately 50-70 witnesses who were attending the private party. Santa Monica Police describe the suspects as two males of Hispanic origin, 18-20 years of age, who were wearing dark hooded sweatshirts the night of the shooting. Police ask anyone with information regarding the shooting to contact the robbery homicide unit of the SMPD at (310) 458-8451. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can also use the We-Tip national hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (1-800-782-7463). The second in a series of community workshops on gang violence co-sponsored by the City of Santa Monica and California State Senator Sheila Kuehl originally set for March 12, has been postponed until April 9, out of respect for the victims’ families. (See related story, page 4.) Donations to the families of Hector Bonilla and Jonathan Hernandez are being accepted by the Pico Neighborhood Association. Checks may be made payable to PNA, with “Victims of Violence Support Fund” noted in the memo section, and mailed to Pico Neighborhood Association, 1705 Pico Boulevard, Box 125, Santa Monica, CA 90404.
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