Thousands gathered at the University of California, Santa Barbara on Tuesday to mourn six students killed in a weekend rampage as California lawmakers proposed new ways of keeping guns out of the hands of disturbed killers.
"All died much too young but it's important that we do not let the arithmetic of this atrocity define them," UC President Janet Napolitano told a packed crowd.
Each of the victims left a mark on the world and "as long as we hold them in our hearts, they are not gone," she said.
The school canceled classes and declared a day of mourning and reflection on Tuesday, four days after the shootings and stabbings in the Isla Vista community by 22-year-old community college student Elliot Rodger, who had posted an Internet video outlining his plan to slaughter as many people as possible.
Richard Martinez, whose son, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, 20, died in Friday's attacks, urged students to fight for tougher gun laws.
Rodger had legally obtained three semi-automatic handguns and still had 400 unspent rounds of ammunition when he shot himself to death, authorities said.
"They (politicians) have done nothing and that's why Chris died ... in my opinion," Martinez said.
"It's almost become a normal thing for us to accept this," he said, referring to mass-killings. "It's not normal...life doesn't have to be like this."
He got the crowd to repeatedly chant "Not one more," in reference to such massacres.
He also read statements from the families of two other slain students, Cheng Yuan Hong and Weihan Wang, both 20, in which they asked for prayers or blessings on the families of the victims and the killer.
"May we together create a peaceful world and let hatred be gone with the wind," the Hong family statement said.
Earlier Tuesday, two California Assembly members proposed legislation that would create a gun violence restraining order that could be sought from a judge by law enforcement at the request of family members and friends.
"When someone is in crisis, the people closest to them are often the first to spot the warning signs but almost nothing can now be done to get back their guns or prevent them from buying more," said Democratic Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, who sponsored the measure with Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara.
Currently, therapists can tell authorities when they fear a client is at risk of committing a violent act. However, there is no prohibition on firearms ownership unless someone has been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.
Another proposal involves establishing statewide protocols for law enforcement officers who are called to check on mentally troubled people.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, suggested that authorities should be required as part of such welfare visits to check whether a person has purchased weapons instead of just talking to them.
Additional steps could include searching the individual's surroundings and talking to roommates, neighbors and relatives, he said.
"There is a lot we can do to prevent these kinds of horrific events in the future," said Steinberg, who has spent much of his time in the Legislature addressing mental health concerns.
State senators spent 35 minutes at the state Capitol eulogizing the students killed in the weekend violence and expressing frustration that such rampages continue despite previous efforts to end the problem.
The rampage came hours after Rodger emailed a lengthy manifesto to his parents, therapists and others, and a month after sheriff's deputies had visited him on a welfare check after his parents became concerned about his postings on YouTube.
The deputies found Rodger to be shy but polite and left without walking through the apartment or talking to anyone else. Rodger later wrote in his manifesto that deputies would have found his weapons and foiled his plot if only they had done a bit more checking.
Steinberg was joined by Democrats Jim Beall of San Jose, Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara, and William Monning of Carmel in saying that more needs to be done to identify people with severe mental illness and get them the services they need.
Jackson and the other lawmakers said it is important to de-stigmatize mental illness and provide more ways to intervene and save the lives of young people with hopes and dreams.
"They are young people whose parents will never be able to dance at their weddings." Jackson said. "They are people who will never been able to find the cure for cancer or to brighten up the lives of others, because we as a nation have let this kind of behavior go on too long."
— The Associated Press
Among the six people killed in Friday's rampage were three people found stabbed to death in Rodger's apartment and three who were shot as the attacker drove around Isla Vista firing at bystanders. All of the victims were UCSB students.
Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez
Michaels-Martinez, 20, was an English major from Los Osos, California. The son of a criminal defense attorney and a deputy district attorney in San Luis Obispo, he planned to spend his junior year in London next year and to law school after graduation, his father, Richard Martinez, said.
(Photo by AP)
Addressing reporters on Saturday, the father pulled out a photo of his son as a small child in a Chicago Cubs baseball uniform and said they used to call him "mini-Sammy Sosa," referring to the former Cubs star.
"Our son Christopher Martinez and six others are dead. Our family has a message for every parent out there: You don't think it'll happen to your child until it does. Chris was a really great kid. Ask anyone who knew him. His death has left our family lost and broken."
Friends said Michaels-Martinez, who served as residential adviser at a dorm last year, was the kind of guy who would welcome strangers into his home.
Her friend Courtney Benjamin said Cooper, 22, was a painter with an outgoing side. Known as Katie, she was about to graduate with a degree in art history.
(Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
"She was a self-proclaimed princess and I love her for that," Benjamin said. "And I know she has a crown on her head today."
Andrew Notohamiprodjo was Cooper's ballroom dance teacher three years ago and later supervised her as a teaching assistant in ballroom dance. Cooper was looking forward to graduating but planned to stay in town another year, he said.
"She was a lot of fun, super forward," he said.
Brandon Andre, Cooper’s friend and one-time prom date, told the OC Register:
"A lot of us remember her as someone that was very caring, very kind. She was very strong in her personality … Everywhere she went, she left an impression. People just loved her, and we’re just all really shocked … It’s really horrible, the situation and the tragedy that she experienced, and I think we all just wish the family the best of the situation that they’re in right now."
Cooper graduated from Ruben S. Ayala High School in Chino Hills in 2010.
Weiss, 19, was first-year student from Westlake Village, California.
(Photo by AP)
Her father Bob Weiss told the Los Angeles Times his daughter was a tomboy who played four sports at Westlake High School — cross country, baseball, swimming and water polo — while earning straight A's. Her strength was math.
"She wanted to be a financial wizard, and use her high aptitude with complicated math," the father told the newspaper on Sunday.
"There was never a day I wasn't proud of her. Never a single day," he said.
Weiss told KPCC:
"In my heart, I believe she was either doing one of two things when she was shot. She was either trying to help that boy, who was obviously under distress, pounding on the door. She was either trying to help that boy, or she was trying to help her friends."
Cheng Yuan Hong
Hong, 20, who went by the name James, grew up in Taipei and was pursuing a degree in computer science, according to his Facebook page.
Friends said he was a hard-working and bright student who was always willing to help others.
"He would always smile at everyone he knows," said Han Chou, who knew the victim at UC Santa Barbara.
He graduated from Lynbrook High School in San Jose. His drama teacher remembered him as a quiet student who was happy to work backstage to ensure that his classmates could shine.
"James was shy, quiet, gentle, sweet, kind and most respectful," Laurel Cohen told the San Jose Mercury News on Monday. "Not someone who easily could engage in conversation. But I remember his earnest nature, conviction, honesty and mostly his smile; it lit up a room."
Authorities said Hong was among the three young men found dead in Rodger's apartment.
In January, Rodger accused Hong of stealing three candles, valued at $22, said Joyce Dudley, Santa Barbara County district attorney.
When Hong said he didn't know where the candles were, Rodger performed a citizen's arrest and called 911. Sheriff's deputies found the candles on Hong's bed. He was arrested and charged with a petty theft infraction.
The strange incident was one of three contacts authorities had with Rodger before he went on the deadly rampage.
Chen's parents visited a makeshift memorial set up for their son, Hong and Wang in Isla Vista on Monday night and added their names in chalk to the sidewalk. They told KABC-TV the country needed tougher gun laws to avert another mass killing.
"We would die a hundred times, a thousand times, but we don't want our kids to get hurt," Chen's mother, Kelly Wang, said as she fought through tears. "This shouldn't happen to any family. This should be the last one in the United States."
A family friend said Chen, 19, was a gentle soul who had a fondness for working with children.
"He was a very good kid, very smart," Sherry Shih told the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday.
"This is just a terrible, and (his parents) cannot understand at all how something like this could happen," Shih said.
Chen, who was also studying computer science, graduated from Leland High School in San Jose and was originally from Ottawa, Ontario.
A family friend said Wang, who went by the name David, and two other students who shared the Isla Vista apartment with Elliot Rodger had planned to move out because they weren't getting along with him.
"That guy was always playing music very loud in the middle of the night," Sherry Fang told KNTV-TV on Monday. "They complained to the manager of the apartment and they were planning to move out."
"Normally, they don't talk to each other," Wang's mother, Jinshuang "Jane" Liu, told the station. "They don't have much interaction."
The tearful mother said her only son was supposed to come home to Fremont for the summer, go on a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park and celebrate his 21st birthday in July. The station said the father, Charlie Wang, could only stand in the doorway, hugging his wife and uttering deep, guttural cries.
Wang, 20, and his parents immigrated to the country from China 10 years ago. He graduated from Fremont Christian School and was studying computer engineering at UC Santa Barbara.
Liu called her son "the joy of the family," someone who aced his SATs and never bragged about it. She told NBC:
"My son, my whole life, I'm so proud of him... I wish I could go in exchange of my son's life," she said, tears filling her eyes. "I'm just heartbroken. You just can't imagine for a mom."
At least two funds have been created to help honor the victims of the Isla Vista shootings and to support their families.
The university has set up The UC Santa Barbara Community Fund to memorialize the students who were victims of the attack.
The Santa Barbara Foundation has set up the Victims of Isla Vista Fund.
This story has been updated.