Santa Monica High School is mourning the loss of 15-year-old Eduardo “Eddie” Lopez, a popular sophomore who was shot to death in Santa Monica last week in the Pico Neighborhood, where he grew up.

More than 2,000 of his classmates, teachers and staff from Santa Monica High School, representatives from the City of Santa Monica, and Santa Monica residents attended a memorial service for Lopez at the high school Thursday, March 2nd.

Also on March 2nd, another memorial service was held at night at St. Monica Catholic Church, where Lopez was a member of a youth group.

A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 10th, at St. Monica Catholic Church, 725 California Ave., Santa Monica.

Funeral services will be held at the church at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 11th.

Friends said Lopez was an excellent student who loved his family and his teammates on the high school’s junior varsity baseball and football teams.

“I think everyone realizes how significant and tragic it was to lose Eddie Lopez,” said Ilene Strauss, principal of Santa Monica High School. “This is a huge tragedy for the entire community and a somber grieving time for the school. We were never prepared to lose a student tragically like this.”

The death of Lopez was the first homicide in Santa Monica this year, Santa Monica police Lt. Frank Fabrega said.

The shooting incident occurred at about 9:20 p.m. Tuesday, February 28th, when Lopez and two friends were standing outside a convenience store at Pico Boulevard and 26th Street.

A suspect, described only as a male Hispanic wearing a dark- colored hooded sweatshirt and a bandana over his face, approached the three teenagers and yelled a Los Angeles-based Hispanic gang name several times, Santa Monica police said.

The suspect then fired several shots, striking only Lopez, in the upper torso, and fled, police said.

“A witness reported seeing a white pickup truck fleeing the scene, but it is unclear whether the vehicle was involved or not,” Fabrega said.

After he was shot, Lopez ran across the street and eventually collapsed on the sidewalk.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found Lopez with a gunshot wound to the upper torso.

Lopez was taken to the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead about an hour after the shooting, police said.

Fabrega said Lopez did not have any documented gang affiliation, and police believe Lopez and his friends were mistaken for gang members and that the shooting was “gang related.”

The case investigation is ongoing with Santa Monica Police Department detectives.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Santa Monica Police Department Robbery-Homicide Unit at (310) 458-8451, or the Watch Commander’s Office at (310) 458-8426.

“Eddie’s mother keeps saying that our youths should be taken care of and she doesn’t want Eddie’s death to be used in any way that would cause separation in the community,” said Maria Rodriguez, former president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District PTA Council.

“She said we should all be together for one cause — to support our youth,” said Rodriguez, who was speaking on behalf of the Lopez family.

Rodriguez said the family is grateful for the attention and compassion that have been expressed by the school district and Santa Monica community.

“The family wants the school district to know how grateful they are for the outpouring of attention,” Rodriguez said. “There were so many people from the district who came to pay their respect.

“The family is also grateful for the compassion that the community has expressed.”

An “Eddie Lopez Fund” has been established at First Federal Bank, 1630 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, to help the Lopez family with funeral expenses.

“Samohi [Santa Monica High School] is saddened by the tragic loss of Eddie Lopez and campus life has changed dramatically,” said Alon Nachson, the Santa Monica High School student representative on the school district board of education.

“We wish the best for the Lopez family and want them to know that Eddie will live in our hearts forever.”