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Paul Wellman

Portraits of Isla Vista's Victims

Remembering the UCSB Students Killed During the May 23 Rampage


Thursday, May 29, 2014
Katie Cooper
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Katie Cooper

Katherine Cooper

Katherine was a dancer. A 22-year-old from Chino Hills, Cooper was called “mama bear” by her sorority sisters because she was selfless and generous. A member of the Delta Delta Delta chapter, Cooper studied art history and classics at UCSB. “Katie was such a strong individual and had the most optimistic outlook on life,” said one of her Tri Delta sisters. She often wore patriotic clothing and frequently sprinkled herself in glitter. She always went above and beyond, making an extra effort to help others, and was considered an inspiration by her friends. Less than 24 hours after her tragic death, a few friends spoke to a silent crowd at the candlelit vigil. “Your dance moves are beautiful,” said one speaker. “I won't forget you, Katie. Please continue to dance.”

Veronika Weiss
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Veronika Weiss

Veronika Weiss

Veronika always wore Converse shoes on her feet and a smile on her face. A vibrant 19-year-old who hailed from Westlake Village, Weiss belonged to the Delta Delta Delta sorority and attended UCSB to study financial math and statistics. An impressive water polo player, Weiss was the captain of her high school team. She loved sports and rooted for the Seattle Seahawks. Her captivating persona was felt by those close to her. “She spent more time at the chapter house with us than anywhere else on campus,” said one sorority sister. “Her enthusiasm for life motivated us to become better versions of ourselves.” Weiss's humor had a way of brightening those around her. Family and friends gathered in Westlake, wearing sports gear and purple, her favorite color, to honor her memory.

Weihan “David” Wang
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Courtesy Photo

Weihan “David” Wang

Weihan “David” Wang

David was peaceful and self-controlled. A 20-year-old computer engineering student, Wang arrived at UCSB from Fremont, California. He was born in China and emigrated to the United States a number of years ago. A devout Christian, Wang is fondly remembered by faculty and staff at his former high school in northern California. “He was a wonderful young man,” recalled Superintendent Tricia Meyer. Wang was a hard worker and a high achiever. He especially liked to play basketball, and he was a Lakers fan, according to his Facebook page. “We will learn to love people for the rest of our lives, as you did,” his parents wrote in a statement shared with the community at the Tuesday memorial held in Harder stadium for the six who died last Friday, May 23.

George Chen
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George Chen

George Chen

George was a gentle soul. Written on a note placed at a memorial outside of the apartment building where he tragically lost his life, a message said Chen brought joy to the people around him. “You will be missed,” a childhood friend wrote. The 19-year-old Chen was born in Canada and lived in San Jose before attending UCSB. He was remembered for being a good kid and smart in school. Chen studied computer engineering and enjoyed playing video games — he preferred multiplayer ones — with friends. A memorial for Chen and the two other boys killed at the Capri Apartments is packed with flowers and candles. Messages marked in chalk read “forever in our hearts” and “Gaucho strong.”

Christopher Michaels-Martinez
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Christopher Michaels-Martinez

Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez

Christopher had a habit of blowing away his instructors with his papers, such as one he wrote on feminine desire in Paradise Lost. It was clear that the sophomore’s professors were impressed with his astuteness when several spoke at a memorial organized by the UCSB English Department last Tuesday. Friends from his freshman dorm, Santa Cruz Hall, also recalled his intellectual precociousness but noted that it was paired with a lot of typical 20-year-old antics — he once dressed up as a girl to sneak into a frat party, for example. He constantly played Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” on his iPod, had a crush on Selena Gomez, and was addicted to AriZona Iced Tea. He was a fierce competitor on the basketball court, but his friends described the aspiring lawyer as “selfless.” “He was going to be a lifelong friend,” said former dorm-mate, Natasha Moss.

Cheng Yuan Hong (left)
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Cheng Yuan Hong (left)

Cheng Yuan “James” Hong

James was a giver. A nature lover, 20-year-old Hong was involved in various campaigns to protect the environment. “He was so gung ho,” remembered a fellow volunteer. “He had such a big smile that everyone talked to him....Who could say no to that smile?” Hong was born in Taipei and later moved to San Jose. At UCSB, he was a computer science student who carried a satchel everywhere he went, said another friend. He is remembered for his compassion and spontaneous attitude. “I remember going to the butterfly reserve with Tropicana del Norte last year, watching James become immersed in the beauty around us,” recalled a friend, Tyler Fazil, adding that he has spent the last few days searching for the pictures from that day in an attempt to grasp a physical memory. “The world may be filled with malicious intentions, but James is the symbol of kindness.”

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