Family Mourns 8-Year-Old Shot in Murder-Suicide in His Special Needs Classroom: 'Our Family Angel'
People are mourning the death of 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez, who was shot and killed Monday at North Park Elementary in San Bernardino, California
“Our family angel.”
That’s how relatives are remembering 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez, a student who was shot and killed on Monday at an elementary school in San Bernardino, California.
Police say Jonathan was one of two students hit in the gunfire at North Park Elementary — though their teacher, 53-year-old Karen Elaine Smith, was the target.
Smith’s “estranged” husband, Cedric Anderson, came to her special education classroom just before 10:30 a.m. and opened fire on her without saying a word, according to police. He then shot and killed himself.
Jonathan and another boy, 9, were behind Smith at the time and were also hit, police said.
Jonathan died. The 9-year-old survived and was in stable condition, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan told reporters on Tuesday.
Burguan said the wounded boy “is doing better and the last report we have, all things considered, [is that] he is in relatively good spirits.”
“We are hoping for [the boy’s] full recovery,” San Bernardino City Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Dale Marsden said at a Tuesday news conference.
“From what we heard, he is up and watching cartoons,” Marsden said.
PEOPLE was not immediately able to reach relatives of Jonathan, who authorities said had Williams syndrome — a genetic condition characterized by medical problems including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays and learning disabilities.
Marsden said Tuesday that he had met with the Martinez family following the shooting.
“By all accounts Jonathan Martinez was a happy child,” he said.
Marsden added, “The family wants, in memory of Jonathan, for our nation to be aware and conscious of what is Williams Syndrome. … Parents often say the joy and perspective that the child with this syndrome brings into their lives had been unimaginable.”
Some family members also appeared to take to social media and the Internet to mourn.
In a GoFundMe created by a cousin, Jonathan was described as the “family angel.”
He “was unfortunately taken from us [too] soon,” the relative wrote. The page seeks to raise funds for Jonathan’s funeral and food for his family “in this time of need.”
A Twitter user who also called themselves a cousin shared their reaction soon after learning of Jonathan’s death. She retweeted a message from another user, who wrote of Jonathan, “His life was a miracle.”
Witness: ‘He Just Shot Everywhere’
Chief Burguan said at Tuesday’s news conference that nobody at the school’s front desk “was aware of marital discord,” and that an employee in the school office recognized Anderson, 53.
Burguan said there did not seem to have been a breakdown of school security. Police have said no one saw Anderson’s weapon until he began shooting.
Anderson, the father of three adult children, was not employed at the time of his death, Burguan said. His employment history included working as a pastor and maintenance work.
Burguan said Anderson had been arrested four times, from 1982 to 2013, on charges including weapons, domestic violence and theft — but none of those cases resulted in convictions.
Anderson and Smith had been in a relationship for about four years, Burguan said. They got married in January but separated in mid-March.
A 9-year-old girl who said she was in the classroom when Anderson opened fire told the Los Angles Times what she saw: “He just shot everywhere. I went under the table and then I saw a teacher run out. So I just ran out. My friend and my teacher, they got shot.”
When the girl was later reunited with her mother, she had blood on her clothing.