Six students lost their lives when a troubled 22-year-old Elliot Rodgers shot them down near the University of California Santa Barbara before dying from a self-inflicted gun wound to his head.
A vigil was held at the campus for those who lost their lives, including three who have been identified - Veronika Weiss, Katie Cooper, and Christopher Martinez.
Veronika Weiss was a 19-year-old who was part of the Delta Delta Delta Greek organization, as was 22-year-old Katie Cooper.
Weiss celebrated her 19th birthday just back in February, and was said to have been a water polo player at Westlake High School.
A friend of Katie’s posted the below pic:
He captioned the sweet photo:
Time out from all meaningless vanity posts- Just a few moments ago I learned that one of my high school friends, Kaite Cooper, was a victim in the Santa Barbra shooting. An innocent life was lost for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. I was pretty lost with words at hearing of the news, but now more so at hearing what happened and the grueling last message of the murderer. Katie was a funny, sweet, intelligent, and humble girl. She had WILDLY crazy hair and an awesome personality… And this is just so weird to hear. I know when we hear about someone’s death it really shakes us up because we realize how precious life is… How precious hers and all of the other victims life’s were and it angers us knowing that their lives were robbed from them because someone didn’t get what they wanted. I just wanted to express my condolences to Katie’s family. I could only imagine what they are going through at this moment… I also want to extend my condolences to the families of the other victims involved in this tragedy as well. Please take a moment to pray for them that The Lord may be with them in their grieving. I’m sorry this happened to you Katie… RIP. #katiecooper #RIPkatiecooper you will be missed!
Others revealed to Daily Mail that Katie came from a big family with four other brothers and sisters, and was the apple of her parent’s eye. Her aunt revealed that she had many friends and was involved in a lot of charity work with the sorority.
Her Aunt, Stacy Simmer described getting the call of her death:
‘I was on my way to church and my brother-in-law, Dan, called me and said, “Stacy, are you driving? I need you to pull over because I have something terrible to tell you,”’ Ms Simmer recalled. ‘”There was a guy in a car and he was driving around shooting people, and Katie was one of them and she was killed.”’
‘Katie was the apple of all of our eyes… She had a 4.8 GPA and did a lot of charity fundraising for St Jude’s Children’s hospital.
‘She was studying archeology and she was in in a wonderful sorority.
‘Her parents, Katie and Dan, left for Santa Barbara as soon as they heard. Her two brothers, Nick, 26, a chemist in Colorado, and Jon, still in college, are on their way there now. They were as close as any siblings can be.’
Authorities are not sure if the two sorority sisters knew Elliot Rodgers, but they were shot down while standing outside of the Alpha Phi.
USA Today reports that victim 20-year-old Christopher Martinez, who was a sophomore at the university, had a conversation with his father just 45 minutes before being shot down at IV Deli, where he actually worked.
His father addressed the press yesterday:
‘Our son Christopher and six others are dead,’ Richard Martinez told reporters gathered outside a sheriff’s station for a news conference the day after the shootings near the University of California, Santa Barbara, where the 20-year-old son was a sophomore.
‘You don’t think it’ll happen to your child until it does.’
“They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live?” Martinez said. “When will enough people say: ‘Stop this madness! We don’t have to live like this! Too many people have died!’ “
“Chris was a really great kid,”
“You always think, ‘Oh, that doesn’t happen to me, 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,”
“Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA,’ Martinez said.
He also described what kind of student and son Chris was:
‘He was an English major and he wanted to go to law school. His grades were excellent.
‘Both my wife and I are attorneys and I wasn’t thrilled about him doing that, but we didn’t want to argue with him. He was an only child.’
We pray for the victims of this horrible tragedy, and hope that the wounded can heal quickly. Mr. Martinez’ heartbreaking speech is below and an old photo of his son Chris can be viewed here.