Who they were: Isla Vista rampage victims
In videos and a written diatribe, Elliot Rodger, 22, vowed retribution against those he believed had slighted him. Authorities said he acted on those plans Friday, stabbing to death three men in his apartment, then going on a shooting rampage in Isla Vista, Calif., that lasted about 10 minutes. When it was over, three more people were dead and 13 wounded. All of those killed were UC Santa Barbara students. Rodger then shot himself to death in his BMW as sheriff's deputies pursued him, officials said.
The Times will continue to add details about the victims as more information becomes available.
George Chen, 19
George Chen of San Jose was among the three young men found dead with multiple stab wounds in Elliot Rodger’s apartment, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department said. He was listed on the apartment’s lease along with Rodger and Cheng Yuan Hong.
Both of Chen’s parents are engineers and said their son wanted to follow in their footsteps. Chen wanted to work at Lockheed Martin, his mother, Kelly Y. Wang, said.
She always looked forward to his visits. Chen would often pick up elderly neighbors’ mail or take out their trash.
He also volunteered for a Buddhist-based organization, Tzu Chi.
“He was always very sweet and helpful,” Wang said. “He had always been a very smart kid.”
— Los Angeles Times staff
Katherine Breann Cooper, 22
What childhood friends remember most about Katherine Cooper was her energy: Katie, they said, was unbeatable at foot races, hide-and-seek and catching up with the ice cream truck when it rolled through their tidy Chino Hills neighborhood.
“That girl could run,” recalled Phoenix Morales, 24, who attended grade school with Cooper.
“She’d beat anyone who dared to run against her,” he said, looking out at the cul-de-sac lined with Mediterranean-style red-tiled roofs where they once played baseball and soccer. “Then she’d stand there laughing and trying to catch her breath.”
Allen Borcherding said Cooper was a “more than an excellent student” in his seventh-grade science class at Canyon Hills Junior High School in Chino Hills.
“She was one of 2,500 students I’ve taught over the years, but Katie was a standout,” Borcherding said in an interview in the living room of his home.
“After I heard about what happened, I went through my files and found a photograph that reminded me of the things she did,” he said. “Katie had a 4.0 grade-point average in my class. Beyond that, she was so outgoing that I put her with other students who were struggling because she was such an outgoing, helpful person.”
Cooper went on to become an art history and archaeology student at UC Santa Barbara, and a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.
“Katie was a wonderful kid,” he added.
Cheng Yuan Hong, 20
Cheng Yuan Hong was a computer science student who grew up in Taipei, according to his Facebook page. He graduated in 2012 from Lynbrook High School in San Jose.
Blake Heffner, 20, an electrical engineering major at UC Santa Barbara, met Hong last October at a programming marathon put together by the local chapter of IEEE, an electrical and electronics engineering organization.
“He was a really nice guy, he seemed pretty innocent,” Heffner said.
During the worldwide 24-hour programming competition, IEEE sent out a series of problems and Heffner remembers Hong being helpful even though they were on different teams.
“He was just a really smart guy,” Heffner said. “He gave us tips and we just kind of talked.”
He remembers the bespectacled Hong would often wear windbreakers, which he had in several different colors.
Classmates who knew Hong were devastated by the news, Heffner said.
“One of my friends was paired with him at a career fair and he was pretty sad about” Hong’s death, Heffner said. “Especially after hearing about how gruesome it was.”
Hong was one of three young men stabbed to death by their roommate Elliot Rodger, according to authorities. 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 times of contact that authorities had with Rodger prior to his rampage.
Hong was listed on the apartment’s lease along with Rodger and George Chen.
— Los Angeles Times staff
Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20
Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez was the only child of two attorneys, his mother a deputy district attorney and his father a criminal defense attorney. He grew up in the San Luis Obispo area and graduated from San Luis Obispo High School in 2012.
A studious kid and avid reader, Michaels-Martinez was also an athlete from a young age, his father said, beginning with soccer and going on to play football and basketball.
Michaels-Martinez was preparing for a year studying abroad in London when he died. He had traveled from a young age, visiting France, Spain and Italy with his father, and returning to Europe with high school classmates.
“He was just a terrific kid in every way,” father Richard Martinez said. “You couldn’t really ask for a better kid, and I’m not just saying that because I’m his father.”
Martinez said he wants to meet with Elliot Rodger’s father to work toward preventing future tragedies.
“I lost my son. He lost his son. We have that in common,” he said. “We want, if possible, that the deaths of our son and his son should mean something.”
Weihan Wang, 20
Weihan Wang of Fremont, Calif., was among the three young men Elliot Rodger stabbed to death in Rodger’s apartment, authorities say. He graduated from Fremont Christian School and was planning to spend the summer with his parents in Fremont, according to his mother, Jane Liu. Wang and his parents emigrated from mainland China a decade ago.
Liu told KNTV on Monday that her son was upset by loud music Rodger played in the middle of the night and had decided to move to another apartment for the next school year.
Liu, a nurse, said she and her husband, Charlie Wang, were devastated by the death of their only child.
“What can I do without my son?” Liu said. “My son, my whole life, I’m so proud of him.”
As part of a computer programming class last year, Wang worked with classmates to create a campus guide app called Gaucho Life. According to classmates, he was a hard worker who pitched in on tedious coding and never complained.
“When I heard the news, I was so shocked. He was such a normal person, like us,” classmate Wei Guo said.
Wang was a close friend and roommate of victims George Chen and Cheng Yuan Hong, according to classmates. They had a shared Chinese heritage, and they loved playing video games and talking about computer engineering.
— Los Angeles Times staff
Veronika Weiss, 19
Bob Weiss said his daughter Veronika Weiss was wise and mature beyond her years. He said he would go to her for advice sometimes if he was having a problem with her brothers, Cooper, 17, and Jackson, 15, or even a minor argument with his wife.
His daughter was always a tomboy. She played four sports in high school: cross country, baseball, swimming and water polo. She earned straight A’s. Her strength was math.
Starting at age 6 she loved playing softball, he said. Later she played baseball. He said she was the only girl out of 500 players in the Westlake baseball league.
“She was tough,” he said. “She was a big strong girl and she was tough.”
He said she always organized events for her circle of friends. He described her friends as nerds and serious students. They would study every Friday night and it was not unusual for her to spend Sundays working on her advanced math work. “She loved it,” he said.
He said many of her friends went on to other prestigious schools such as Princeton and she wanted to go to the University of Washington. But the out-of-state tuition and financial situation made that prohibitive.
“She would always wear her purple and gold University of Washington sweat shirt,” he said.
“She wanted to be a financial wizard, and use her high aptitude with complicated math.”
He said her mother and grandmother belonged to the Tri-Delta sorority so it makes sense that she would join it at UC Santa Barbara. She didn’t know many people at the Santa Barbara campus but the sorority gave her a built-in circle of friends, he said.
“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.”
— Amanda Covarrubias