Isla Vista rampage: UCSB parents tell of deep sorrow, pride and love
UC Santa Barbara called off classes Tuesday for a day of mourning and reflection after last week’s deadly rampage near the campus, which left seven dead.
Family members of the UC Santa Barbara students killed in Elliot Rodger’s rampage in Isla Vista have reacted visibly with deep sorrow and anger, while others have remained silent, asking that their privacy be respected as they grieve.
Some parents had raced to the scene the night of the attack only to discover their worst fears realized. Others arrived over the weekend to find burgeoning sidewalk memorials marking where the six college students died.
First to be killed in Rodger’s rampage were his roommates: Weihan Wang, 20, of Fremont and Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, and George Chen, 19, both of San Jose. Authorities found them stabbed to death in the apartment they shared with Rodger.
Wang’s parents spoke of their son -- an aspiring computer engineer who wanted to start a business with Chen and Hong.
“My son, my whole life I’m so proud of him,” Jinshuang “Jane” Liu told NBC Bay Area. “He’s kind of quiet but nice to everybody. Very considerate. … I just think, ‘God, why don’t you take me instead of my son?’ ”
On Monday night, Chen’s parents visited a street-side memorial to their son and the other Isla Vista shooting victims, writing “Mom and Dad” in chalk with a heart around it on the sidewalk.
“We would die a hundred times, a thousand times, but we don’t want our kids to get hurt,” Chen’s mother, Kelly Wang, told ABC Los Angeles. “This shouldn’t happen to any family. This should be the last one in the United States.”
It was a sentiment shared by Richard Martinez, whose 20-year-old son, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, was gunned down at I.V. Deli Mart during the rampage.
“My kid died because nobody responded to what happened in Sandy Hook,” Richard Martinez told CNN, referring to the mass shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children in 2012. “You’re sitting out there safe in your family room with your children safely around you and I’m telling you, they walk out on that street, it can happen. It’s happened far too many times now.”
Also among those killed were Veronika Weiss, 19, and Katherine Breann Cooper, 22, who were shot in the grass in front of their sorority.
Weiss routinely checked in with her parents and they immediately tried to call her once they learned of the shooting, Weiss’s father told CNN.
The couple went online to determine her iPhone’s location and saw it was within the crime scene area and was moving, Bob Weiss said.
“We actually were looking at her phone while they were moving her body,” he said. “Probably to take her to the morgue.”
Weiss said his daughter always organized events for her circle of friends, whom he described as serious students. They would study every Friday night, and it was not unusual for her to spend Sundays studying math.
“She will be an inspiration to me every day of my life,” he said. “There was never a day I wasn’t proud of her. Never a single day.”
The parents of Hong and Cooper asked for privacy.
A note taped to a window at the Cooper home said, “Please, no press. We appreciate your kindness to want to find out about Katie’s life. But we are choosing to remember her in our own way. Thank you. The Cooper family.”
“Katie was a wonderful kid,” said Allen Borcherding, who taught her in his seventh-grade science class at Canyon Hills Junior High School in Chino Hills. “But evil’s on the move.”
Hong’s parents reportedly landed in California from their native Taiwan on Monday. They were expected to meet Monday afternoon with a Taiwanese representative and school officials, according to a spokesman for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.
“We think they might need some support and help,” said Kent Yang, adding that representatives from a Buddhist charity, the Tzu Chi Foundation, would also be present at the meeting to offer counseling and assistance with funeral costs.
The university, meanwhile, planned a large-scale vigil Tuesday afternoon, with students expected to bring 10,000 ribbons to represent the “community’s collective mourning, reflection, and recovery.”
It was just one of several events planned throughout the day and week to help students grieve and get counseling.
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