Santa Barbara Victims: Two Sorority Sisters, an Aspiring Lawyer
Family and friends mourn three students whose lives were cut short by a gunman
The idyllic town of Isla Vista was rocked when a man went on a killing spree, stabbing three men in his apartment complex, then fatally shooting three university students as he drove around in a BMW.
The shooting victims – Veronika Weiss, Katie Cooper and Christopher Martinez – were remembered Saturday evening at an on-campus vigil that drew more than 1,000 members of the tight-knit University of California, Santa Barbara, community. (The names of the stabbing victims, also all UCSB students, weren’t released until Sunday.) Here’s a closer look at three of the lives cut short by Elliot Rodger, 22.
Katie Cooper, 22
The senior, who grew up in Chino Hills, California, was weeks away from graduating with a degree in art history and archaeology. According to her Facebook page, the outgoing student – who was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority – loved to dance and participated in various dance clubs on-campus including cotillion, salsa and ballroom. Cooper often painted seascapes and other images at the sorority house. “She loved to wear a cute dress and pearls and go out and have fun,” her friend Letitia Mueller told PEOPLE.
Veronika Weiss, 19
According to friends, Weiss was a “sweet and friendly” freshman at the university, and was also a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. She graduated from Westlake (California) High School last year and was a member of the girls’ water polo team, the Thousand Oaks Acorn reports. “She was a kind-hearted person” who would never look down at anyone, her friend Effie Sklavenitis, who attended high school with Weiss, tells PEOPLE. “I’m just in shock. This was just a senseless tragedy by a horrible monster.”
Christopher Martinez, 20
Martinez’s father, Richard Martinez, spoke about his son’s death at an emotional news conference Saturday. “Chris was a really great kid. Ask anyone who knew him,” said Martinez. “His death has left our family lost and broken.” NBC reports the English major planned to attend law school after graduation and was expected to finish college in three years with an impressive GPA. “We need to think not that he is gone, but that he was here,” Martinez’s friend Jeffrey Dolphin tells PEOPLE about his “very generous friend.”
On Sunday, authorities released the identities of the three other UCSB students whom Rodger fatally stabbed before going on the shooting spree.
They are Chen Yuan Hong, 20, and George Chen, 19, both of San Jose, California, and both believed to be Rodger’s roommates. Also killed was Weihan Wang, 20, of Fremont, California. It wasn’t yet known if he also was an apartment tenant or was visiting.