The father of one of those who died in the shooting rampage in Isla Vista spoke out Saturday on the death of his son, Christopher Martinez.
Addressing reporters Saturday afternoon outside the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department headquarters, Richard Martinez became emotional and, at times, angry.
“I talked to him about 45 minutes before he died,” Richard Martinez said of his son. "Our family has a message for every parent out there: You don’t think it’ll happen to your child until it does.”
Christopher Martinez, 20, was among the seven people killed Friday when authorities say a gunman carried out a premeditated attack near UC Santa Barbara, shooting and running people down with his BMW.
A law enforcement source told The Times that the gunman was Elliot Rodger. Rodger’s father, Peter, said through an attorney that he believes Elliot Rodger is the suspect.
Witnesses described a horrific scene on Friday night about 9:30 p.m., when the shooting began. Many said they heard gunshots and saw a skateboarder being struck by a black BMW 328i racing at speeds of 45 mph in a densely packed, student-dominated community along the coast.
Lyssa Hopper, a 19-year-old student was at IV Deli Market in the 6500 block of Pardell Road Friday night buying some Gatorade and soda around that time. As she was purchasing the items, she heard what she said were multiple gunshots.
Then, Hopper said, she saw glass flying and dropped to the ground. When she looked up she saw a victim on the ground by the door in a pool of blood.
“He was slumped over, and he was bleeding,” Hopper said.
Hopper said she knew the victim, who she identified as Martinez, a second-year student at UC Santa Barbara. She said she tried to help administer CPR but was so upset that she was unable to render aid until paramedics arrived.
She said, though tears, that Martinez had died.
At a news conference Saturday afternoon, Richard Martinez lashed out at politicians and the National Rifle Assn. for refusing to support more restrictive gun control measures.
“Chris was a really great kid,” his father said. “Ask anyone who knew him. His death has left our family lost and broken.
“Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA,” Richard
Martinez continued. “They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live? When will this insanity stop?
"When will enough people say, 'Stop this madness.' We do not have to live like this. Too many people have died. We should say to ourselves, 'not one more.'"