A 22-year-old Santa Monica man was shot to death when he and two friends ran away from a vehicle near Virginia Avenue Park in Santa Monica Wednesday, December 27th, police said.

Miguel Martin, who was shot in the upper torso, was taken to the UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, where he subsequently died as a result of his injuries, Santa Monica police Lt. Alex Padilla said.

No one else was injured in the shooting.

Santa Monica police were called at 7:20 p.m. to the 2300 block of Pico Boulevard regarding calls of shots fired.

According to witnesses, Martin and two friends had apparently been walking along Pico Boulevard when a car drove alongside them, Padilla said.

One of the occupants in the vehicle allegedly began to yell gang-related comments and Martin and his companions then ran away from the vehicle, Padilla said.

As they were running, several gunshots were fired and Martin was struck, he said.

The shooting suspect, who was a passenger in the vehicle, is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 20 to 30 years old, heavy-set and clean-shaven, police said.

The driver of the vehicle is described only as a Hispanic male.

The suspects’ vehicle is described as a black four-door 1980s or 90s Honda Accord, police said.

Padilla said Santa Monica police have increased patrol in the area in response to the shooting incident and are working with the Los Angeles Police Department and other agencies in trying to find the suspects and prevent any possible acts of retaliation.

Anyone with additional information regarding the incident is asked to contact the Santa Monica Police Department Robbery Homicide Unit at (310) 458-8451 or the watch commander’s office at (310) 458-8427.

Martin, who grew up in Santa Monica, had spent time at the Virginia Avenue Park Teen Center, which offers arts-based programs, and also took part in activities in the Police Activities League fitness gym at the park, said Scott Wasserman, human services administrator at the park.

“I think it gave him a positive place to spend his time,” Wasserman said.

Some young staff members at the park had known Martin for many years, he said.

“To them he was more than just another youth but someone who they grew up with,” Wasserman said.

The park has a counselor available to talk to the staff and youths to help them cope with the loss, he said.

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