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Stories of victims in California rampage

27 May 2014, 13:03

Goleta - A gunman went on a rampage on Friday night near the University of California, Santa Barbara that left seven people dead, including him. Here are the stories of the six victims, who were all students at the university.

Weihan Wang

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, aged 20, and his parents immigrated to the country from China ten 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 college aptitude exams and never bragged about it.

"I wish I could go in exchange of my son's life," she said. "I'm just heartbroken. You can't imagine for a mom."

Cheng Yuan Hong

Hong, aged 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 police. 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.

George Chen

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, aged 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.

Katherine Breann Cooper

Her friend Courtney Benjamin said Cooper, aged 22, was a painter with an outgoing side. Known as Katie, she was about to graduate with a degree in art history.

"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.

Cooper graduated from Ruben S Ayala High School in Chino Hills in 2010.

Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez

Michaels-Martinez, aged 20, was an English major from Los Osos, California. The son of a criminal defence 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.

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.

"Chris was a really great kid," Martinez said. "Ask anyone who knew him."

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.

Veronika Elizabeth Weiss

Weiss, aged 19, was first-year student from Westlake Village, California.

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.

- AP


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