California university remembers 6 killed: 'Let hatred be gone with the wind'

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Story highlights

  • About 20,000 gather at University of California, Santa Barbara, to remember victims
  • Napolitano: They "share memories" and come together "for love and for support"
  • One victim's father calls frequency of such mass shootings "intolerable"
  • Elliot Rodger fatally stabbed 3, shot dead 3 others before being found dead in his car

If Friday was a day to forget, Tuesday was one to remember.

Students, faculty, staff and loved ones did just that at Harder Stadium on the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara, reflecting on the lives of six of its students.

"There is a human desire to come together, to reach out to one another for love and for support," University of California President Janet Napolitano told the roughly 20,000 people packed in the stadium, according to campus police. "We are here because we want to share memories of the young lives struck down far too soon."

Napolitano was one of several speakers at the event late Tuesday afternoon, capping a formal day of mourning on campus. Some represented the Southern California university, others spoke for religious centers based nearby, and then there was the father of one victim who spoke for his family and two others.

While two families offered prayers for their sons' killer, there was only one brief mention -- by a faculty member -- of Elliot Rodger by name.

He is the only one of the seven killed who didn't attend UCSB. In a 137-page document, not to mention videos and musings on social media, the 22-year-old hinted that years of rejection and jealousy led him to lash out against beautiful women and popular men.

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Relatives of those Rodger killed described their loved ones as caring, generous and kind. They wanted Tuesday to be about the goodness the victims represented, not the venom connected to their demise.

As the family of Cheng Yuan Hong intoned: "May we together create a peaceful world and let hatred be gone with the wind."

From stabbings to shootings

The 20-year-old Hong was one of Rodger's roommates and first three victims -- along with 19-year-old George Chen and 20-year--old Weihan "David" Wang. Each was stabbed to death.

A friend of Rodger's family said Rodger recently had a feud with his roommates, complaining to his landlord that they were too noisy and played lots of video games. He hinted at his plans for them in his manifesto, writing in apparent reference to Chen and Hong, "I'd even enjoy stabbing them both to death while they slept."

But Rodger didn't stop there. He then embarked on a shooting rampage Friday night, killing two young women -- Katherine Cooper, 22, and Veronika Weiss, both members of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.

Bob Weiss recalled tracking his 19-year-old daughter's iPhone, noticing that it was moving -- perhaps to the morgue, along with her body -- though no one was answering.

The irony, Weiss said, is that Veronika was exactly the kind of person who would want to help Rodger.

"She was kind. She was the person who would reach out to the kids who weren't the popular kids, some of the nerdy kids, some of the kids that were a little bit like this Rodger kid described himself as."

Rodger didn't stop there, either. He went into a deli and killed UCSB junior Christopher Martinez, who was getting a sandwich.

There was more chaos and violence that followed. But while 13 people overall suffered injuries, the only other person who'd die that night was Rodger himself. He was found with a gunshot wound to his head, after crashing his black BMW.

By then, Rodger's mother, Lichin, had seen the e-mailed manifesto as well as disturbing video on his YouTube page in which her son talked about "slaughtering" women at a sorority house at UCSB, family friend Simon Astaire said.

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She and her ex-husband set off from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, at which point they learned of a shooting. Later, they learned that their son -- who had a history of mental health issues, and was seeing at least two therapists -- was the one behind it.

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Victim's father: 'It's intolerable'

As he has been ever since his emotional and overtly political speech hours after his son's killing, Martinez's father, Richard, was the most visible and vocal of the victim's family members at Tuesday's memorial.

He began his remarks by reading statements on behalf of the Hong and Wang families.

The latter expressed pride in a son they characterized as gentle, kind, loving, peaceful and thankful.

"Good for now," the Wang family wrote, "until we see you in heaven."

Then, Richard Martinez spoke for his own family (even as he stressed, his views aren't those of all the victims' families).

He began by remembering his son as a sweet, if determined young man, someone who would quickly get back up if he was knocked down.

Richard Martinez said that his son's death should not be in vain, imploring people and especially politicians to enact stricter gun control laws.

He recalling telling a member of Congress that their condolences wouldn't help; he wanted them to make a difference with policy changes so that there wouldn't be more parents, like himself, grieving the loss of children to senseless acts of violence.

He rallied many in attendance Tuesday to stand up and chant "not one more" -- the words he had used when addressing reporters shortly after his son's death Friday.

"It's intolerable," Richard Martinez said Friday. "We know what's happening here. Too many people have died, and it should be not one more."

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