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Isla Vista shooting: Former roommate recalls shooting victim

BasketballUC Santa Barbara
A former college roommate described Isla Vista shooting victim Christopher Michaels-Martinez as kind
Isla Vista shooting victim Christopher Michaels-Martinez liked video games, loved his family "very much."

A former college roommate of Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, one of the victims of Friday night's shooting rampage in Isla Vista, Calif., described the 20-year-old as kind and family-oriented.

Jeff Dolphin, a second-year student at UC Santa Barbara, said he lived with Michaels-Martinez their freshman year. They were assigned to be roommates, he said -- Michaels-Martinez's name was the first he saw on the list.

Dolphin was nervous about going into college, moving into the dorms, he told reporters after Saturday's vigil. But Michaels-Martinez "made it very easy."

"Chris was just an amazing guy," he said. "If I was going through something, he was always there for me. If I needed something, he was there. If I needed a textbook, if I was locked out of the room because I forgot my key, he would stop playing basketball or doing what he was doing to unlock the door so I didn't have to get charged. He was just a great guy."

Michaels-Martinez liked playing video games and basketball, Dolphin recalled. He could always make you laugh. Michaels-Martinez was a good writer, Dolphin said, lending his roommate a hand and proofreading his papers.

Michaels-Martinez also loved his family — "very much," Dolphin said. His family would come visit him at school.

"I'm still in shock about the whole thing. Because you always hear about stuff like this happening, but you always think, 'Oh that doesn't happen to me,'" Dolphin said, his voice wavering. "'That doesn't happen in my town. That's always just something on the news.' But that did happen, and it's just like very overwhelming."

Dolphin also spoke about Michaels-Martinez at a vigil Saturday night in an Isla Vista park. He recalled the time Michaels-Martinez abruptly walked into his room with a 6-pound bag of chips and hummus, insisting they binge watch Dolphin's favorite show. The thousands of students gathered laughed for the first time all evening.

"That's what I think of when I think of him," Dolphin said, sniffling. "Not that he's gone. But that he was there."

According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Michaels-Martinez graduated in 2012 from San Luis Obispo High School, where he played on the freshman and junior varsity basketball teams and took advanced placement classes. He was an English major at UC Santa Barbara and planned to go to law school, said his father, Richard Martinez.

Michaels-Martinez was at a deli on Pardall Road in Isla Vista when suspected gunman Elliot Rodger shot and killed him, sheriff's officials said.

Rodger allegedly killed six people and wounded seven more while carrying out an elaborate revenge fantasy. Deputies found Rodger dead in his BMW with a gunshot wound to the head after the rampage.

Speaking to reporters outside the sheriff's department on Saturday, Richard Martinez talked about his son.

“Our family has a message for every parent out there: You don’t think it will happen to your child until it does," he said. "His death has left our family lost and broken.”

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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