As authorities continue to investigate Friday’s rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, profiles of the victims have emerged, giving the tragedy a deepened sense of identity and loss.
The killing spree –- which left seven people dead, including the suspected gunman, and 13 injured –- began in the apartment that Elliot Rodger rented, inside a two-story courtyard building fronted by palm trees.
James Cheng-yuan Hong, 20, George Chen, 19, and Weihan Wang, 20, were found stabbed to death inside, authorities said. All were from the San Francisco Bay Area and were students at the university. Hong and Chen were listed on the apartment lease. Wang was visiting his friends.
Lara Lewis lived in the same housing area as Hong during his freshman year.
“Instant tears upon hearing about the loss of James Cheng-yuan Hong,” she wrote online. “Please pray for his family.”
Instant tears upon hearing about the loss of James Cheng-yuan Hong. Please pray for his family. Love you James RIP ?? pic.twitter.com/LxyPO4gphR— Lara Lewis (@Laralew42) May 26, 2014
A Change of Plans
Following the stabbings, police said Rodger drove five blocks to the Alpha Phi sorority house. He was seeking “retribution” for what he experienced as a lifetime of social and sexual isolation.
He pounded on the sorority house’s front door.
No one answered.
So Rodger walked around the corner, authorities said, and opened fire on a group of students that included Veronika Weiss and Katherine Cooper, two UCSB students. Cooper’s friend Courtney Benjamin said Cooper, 22, was a painter with an outgoing side. She was preparing to graduate with a degree in art history.
"She was a self-proclaimed princess and I love her for that," Benjamin said. "And I know she has a crown on her head today."
Weiss, 19, was a first-year student from Westlake Village, California, who had played water polo in high school.
"She was always a happy person," said Eric Pursley, who worked with Weiss at a Target store in Thousand Oaks last year.
Two blocks and three minutes later, Rodger was at a local deli. There, he got out of his car, went inside and shot and killed Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20. Friends described him as the kind of person who would welcome strangers into his home. He planned to study abroad and then go to law school.
Following the tragedy, Richard Martinez discussed his son’s impact.
“Our son was the most important thing in the world to all of us,” he said through tears. “He was our only child and he was so much a part of our lives. It's hard to imagine how things are going to be like now that he's gone.
“If we have to live with this, we want to do what we can, so nobody else has to go through this,” Martinez said.
End of the Rampage
The killing spree continued across the college town –- with a total of 10 places where Rodger hurt or killed people. He drove madly through the streets, striking bicyclists and pedestrians.
One of the injured pedestrians, Nick Pasichuke, was in Santa Barbara visiting a high school friend when he was struck by Rodger’s BMW. Pasichuke is still recovering this morning, hospitalized after suffering two broken legs.
Deputies exchanged fire with the gunman twice before they say Rodger crashed his car. He was found dead inside, after apparently shooting himself in the head.
Three semi-automatic handguns and more than 400 rounds of ammunition were found in the car.
'Day of Retribution’
Before embarking on his rampage, Rodger sent a chilling email outlining his plot.
Chin Rodger, his mother, got a call from Elliot's therapist at 9:17 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday, just minutes before the 22-year-old student opened fire outside the sorority house.
"Have you gotten Elliot's email?" the therapist said, as recounted by Simon Astaire, a close family friend. "I think you should see it."
The email contained links to a 137-page manifesto Elliot wrote and conveyed that something was terribly wrong. Astaire, a writer who has served as a media adviser to high-profile individuals, gave this information to ABC News and other media outlets on Sunday.
The alleged shooter's mother then checked Elliot's YouTube channel and found videos including "Elliot Rodger's Retribution," outlining his alienation and loneliness at being spurned by women and his revulsion for happy couples when he had no female companionship.
"On the day of retribution I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB and I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up blond slut I see inside there," he said in one video.
An alarmed Chin Rodger called her ex-husband Peter with the news and they immediately set out for their son's apartment outside Santa Barbara. According to Astaire, the parents notified authorities and summoned them to their son's apartment. But by then, he said, news of the rampage had already been reported on their car radio.
Previous Police Attention
Rodger’s parents had previously called police to report bizarre behavior by their son.
Police visited and interviewed the 22-year-old in April, after a family member became alarmed about YouTube posts by Rodger that mentioned violence and suicide. While Rodger's parents and social worker were concerned, police found the student to be polite during their interview. He had taken down the alarming posts. Police cleared the call and left without taking any action.
The family never suspected Elliot would have guns, Astaire said: "He had no affinity, it seemed, to guns whatsoever." But in fact the young man had stockpiled at least four guns and hundreds of rounds of ammo in his room, all bought legally.
According to Astaire, Elliot was a loner who had trouble connecting with people. "He was fundamentally withdrawn," Astaire said.
Rejection, Then Rage
Rodger’s text detailed his plans for revenge against women where he planned to kill as many people as possible, including members of a sorority house, his brother and stepmother, and then take his own life.
"'How dare those girls give their love and sex to those other men and not me,' I constantly think when I see young couples," wrote Rodger. "There is nowhere in the world I can go anymore."
The perceived rejection apparently fueled Rodger's rage and the student wrote he felt that humanity had rejected him.
"The females of the human species have never wanted to mate with me, so how could I possibly consider myself part of humanity?" wrote Rodger. "Humanity has never accepted me among them, and now I know why. I am more than human. I am superior to them all. I am Elliot Rodger ... Magnificent, glorious, supreme, eminent ... Divine!"
"There is something very wrong with that. It is an injustice that cannot go unpunished," wrote Rodger of the perceived rejection.
Rodger’s manifesto describes a life of deprivation and unfairness.
His Facebook page, however, tells a story of privilege. Expensive cars. Designer sunglasses. First-class trips. Private Katy Perry concerts.
His father Peter was a second unit director on the 2012 blockbuster movie “The Hunger Games,” and Elliot walked the red carpet at the movie’s premiere –- images of a glamorous life that apparently masked a dark reality.
UCSB’s campus continues to mourn the attack.
Students packed a local church for a special mass Sunday, saying prayers for the victims and survivors. A candlelight vigil was also held Saturday.
Due to the rampage, classes have been canceled for Tuesday, with a day of mourning and reflection planned.
“As terrible as these past two days have been, they make us believe in our students and the entire UCSB community more than ever,” Chancellor Henry T. Yang wrote in a statement to students.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.