A Remembrance Of UCSB Victims: 'This Shouldn't Happen To Any Family'

In the wake of a killing rampage that left six students dead, the University of California, Santa Barbara, community continues to grieve. NPR's Sam Sanders has a remembrance of the victims.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Classes are cancelled at UC Santa Barbara today. The campus is holding a day of mourning to remember the six students killed on Friday night. Authorities say a 22-year-old, Elliott Roger, stabbed three men in his apartment then went on a shooting rampage in the college state of Isla Vista. In a moment, we'll talk about the online response to Roger's hateful writings and videos. First, though, NPR's Sam Sanders has this remembrance of the victims.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: The first three victims Friday night had a lot in common - they were all from Northern California, all from immigrant families and they all wanted to be engineers. Twenty-year-old Cheng Yuan Hong of San Jose was studying computer engineering. A teacher at his high school remembers him as a drama kid who liked to work backstage. Weihan Wang of Fremont was also 20.

He sometimes went by David and played basketball at Fremont Christian High School. Nineteen-year-old George Chen was from San Jose. He was studying computer science. His parents left a message in chalk at a memorial in Isla Vista. His mother, Kelly Wang, told local television station KEYT she'd gladly give her life for his.

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KELLY WANG: (Crying) We would die a hundred times or a thousand times, but we don't want our kids to get her. This just shouldn't happen to any family.

SANDERS: Twenty-two-year-old Katherine Cooper was from Chino Hills, California. Cooper was just weeks away from graduating. She was majoring in art history and was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. Cooper was also a teaching assistant for a ballroom dancing course at the school. UCSB senior Parker McMillan Lanting says Cooper was one of those people everyone liked.

PARKER MCMILLAN LANTING: It's tough to describe Katie 'cause Katie was just one of those people that just didn't have a beef with anybody. She was just open and loving, and all she wanted to do was have fun and have other people have fun and make sure her friends were safe.

SANDERS: Nineteen-year-old Veronika Weiss was also a member of Delta Delta Delta. She was an athlete. She played basketball, water polo and softball growing up. Weiss' father Bob told member station KPCC how he and her mother tried for hours to find any word about their daughter.

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BOB WEISS: We hoped that she just broke her cellphone or lost it or something, but we had a bad feeling.

SANDERS: After checking with two hospitals, they waited.

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WEISS: And then we drove over to the crime scene. We waited in our car until about sunrise.

SANDERS: That's when authorities gave them the news. Bob Weiss says his daughter Veronika probably died trying to help people.

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WEISS: I believe she was doing one of two things when she was shot -she was either trying to help that boy, who obviously was under distress, or help her friends.

SANDERS: The last victim, Christopher Michael Martinez of Los Osos, California, was a 20-year-old English major at UCSB. He wanted to go to law school. Martinez's father Richard, whose statements about gun control and the NRA have been all over the media, says his son's death has shaken his family.

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RICHARD MARTINEZ: Chris was a really great kid, ask anyone who knew him. His death has left our family lost and broken.

SANDERS: Classes resume tomorrow at UCSB. Memorials to the six victims will likely continue through the end of the school year next month and beyond. Sam Sanders, NPR News.

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