By Associated Press
GOLETA, California (AP) – A gunman went on a rampage May 23 near the University of California, Santa Barbara that left seven people dead, including him. Three of the killer’s six victims were Chinese: Weihan Wang, Cheng Yuan Hong, and George Chen.
A family friend said Weihan Wang, who went by the name David, and two other students who shared the Isla Vista apartment with the gunman Elliot Rodger had planned to move out because they weren’t getting along with him.
“That guy was always playing music very loud in the middle of the night,” Sherry Fang told KNTV-TV on Monday. “They complained to the manager of the apartment and they were planning to move out.”
“Normally, they don’t talk to each other,” Wang’s mother, Jinshuang “Jane” Liu, told the station. “They don’t have much interaction.”
The tearful mother said her only son was supposed to come home to Fremont for the summer, go on a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park and celebrate his 21st birthday in July.
The station said the father, Charlie Wang, could only stand in the doorway, hugging his wife and uttering deep, guttural cries.
Wang, 20, and his parents immigrated to the country from China 10 years ago. He graduated from Fremont Christian School and was studying computer engineering at UC Santa Barbara.
Liu called her son “the joy of the family,” someone who aced his college aptitude exams and never bragged about it.
“I wish I could go in exchange of my son’s life,” she said. “I’m just heartbroken. You can’t imagine for a mom.”
Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, who went by the name James, grew up in Taipei and was pursuing a degree in computer science, according to his Facebook page.
Friends said he was a hard-working and bright student who was always willing to help others.
“He would always smile at everyone he knows,” said Han Chou, who knew the victim at UC Santa Barbara.
He graduated from Lynbrook High School in San Jose. His drama teacher remembered him as a quiet student who was happy to work backstage to ensure that his classmates could shine.
“James was shy, quiet, gentle, sweet, kind and most respectful,” Laurel Cohen told the San Jose Mercury News on May 23. “Not someone who easily could engage in conversation. But I remember his earnest nature, conviction, honesty and mostly his smile; it lit up a room.”
Authorities said Hong was among the three young men found dead in Rodger’s apartment.
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 police. 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 contacts authorities had with Rodger before he went on the deadly rampage.
George Chen’s parents visited a makeshift memorial set up for their son, Hong, and Wang in Isla Vista on Monday night and added their names in chalk to the sidewalk. They told KABC-TV the country needed tougher gun laws to avert another mass killing.
“We would die a hundred times, a thousand times, but we don’t want our kids to get hurt,” Chen’s mother, Kelly Wang, said as she fought through tears. “This shouldn’t happen to any family. This should be the last one in the United States.”
A family friend said Chen, 19, was a gentle soul who had a fondness for working with children.
“He was a very good kid, very smart,” Sherry Shih told the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday.
“This is just a terrible, and (his parents) cannot understand at all how something like this could happen,” Shih said.
Chen, who was also studying computer science, graduated from Leland High School in San Jose and was originally from Ottawa, Ontario.
The three other fatalities in the shooting were Katherine Breann Cooper, Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, and Veronika Elizabeth Weiss. Several other people were injured. (end)