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Candlelight vigil, memorial walk to mark anniversary of Isla Vista shootings

Candlelight vigil and memorial walk in memory of the Isla Vista shootings are scheduled to take place Saturday

A candlelight vigil and memorial walk are planned Saturday night in Isla Vista -- one year after a young man embarked on a killing spree that left six UC Santa Barbara students dead and several more injured before taking his own life.

The university is hosting the memorial to honor those killed and injured in the attack by gunman Elliot Rodger, 22, who authorities described as a troubled and lonely man who spent nearly two years planning his deadly rampage.

The mother of one of his victims, George Chen, 19, who was a friend of Rodger's roommates, is scheduled to speak at the event that is being held at 7:30 p.m. at People's Park in Isla Vista.

In a written statement, Kelly Wang recalled how she did not get to hear Chen's voice this past Mother's Day.

"It breaks my heart when I think of him," she wrote. "My sweet boy is gone forever, without a sign or warning, without having a chance to say goodbye."

On May 23, 2014, Rodger, stabbed to death his two roommates, and Chen, in their apartment. Three hours later, he went on a shooting rampage, killing three more and wounding 14, according to a nine-month investigation by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

After exchanging gunfire with law enforcement, Rodger took his own life.

Rodger had prepared for the attack for nearly two years, stockpiling guns and visiting local target ranges, according to the sheriff's investigation. He did Internet research on Nazis, terrorists and how to kill people.

In her statement, Wang called for student campuses to be better secured in the future, just as airport security measured tightened after the Sept. 11 attacks. She called for the police to be better prepared to anticipate such crimes and for the student housing administrators to conduct more rigorous background checks on applicants.

"I would do anything, give my own life a hundred times over to save George, but I was not given the chance," she said in the statement. "Now, I can only hope that no other children fall victim to senseless killings."

The vigil is one of many events planned this month to mark the one-year anniversary.

emily.foxhall@latimes.com

 

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