San Luis Obispo High grad among Isla Vista shooting victims

The Tribune, San Luis ObispoMay 24, 2014 

Richard Martinez, center, who says his son, Christopher Martinez, was killed in Friday night's mass shooting that took place in Isla Vista, is comforted by his brother, Alan, as he talks to media outside the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Headquarters on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Santa Barbara.

JAE C. HONG — AP

One of the victims of the Isla Vista shooting was a Los Osos resident and 2012 graduate of San Luis Obispo High School.

Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez was 20 years old and a sophomore at UCSB, said Eric Prater, superintendent of San Luis Coastal Unified School District. Martinez had also graduated from Laguna Middle School. The Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office confirmed he was from Los Osos.

According to the 2012 high school yearbook, Michaels-Martinez was a member of the campus newspaper club.

"He was a bright, young happy kid -- a lovely young man who always had a smile on his face," recalled San Luis Obispo High School Principal Leslie O'Connor. "When you look at his picture in the yearbook and look at those eyes -- he was an engaging, happy guy who had a bright future.""It's tragic what happened."

Michaels-Martinez's father, nearly overcome with grief, spoke in front of news cameras in Isla Vista on Saturday afternoon.

"Our son, Christopher, and six others are dead," Richard Martinez told reporters gathered outside a sheriff's station for a news conference the day after the shootings near UCSB. "You don't think it'll happen to your child until it does."

Michaels-Martinez was the last of six people killed by suspect Elliot Rodger before the gunman apparently shot and killed himself, authorities said. Martinez choked back tears as he spoke, then grew angrier as he talked about gun laws and lobbyists.

"The talk about gun rights. What about Chris' right to live?" Martinez said. "When will enough people say: 'Stop this madness! We don't have to live like this! Too many people have died!"

He then punctuated his words as he said, "We should say to ourselves: 'Not! One! More!'" before dissolving into tears and falling to his knees as he stepped from the podium.

Martinez said he talked to his son just 45 minutes before he died inside the IV Deli Mart, where bullet holes and blood could still be seen Saturday. After already killing five others at his apartment and outside a sorority house, Rodger walked into the deli and shot Michaels-Martinez, authorities said.

Michaels-Martinez was an English major who planned to go to London next year and to law school after graduation, his father said. He pulled out a photo of his son as a small child in Chicago Cubs baseball uniform and said they used to call him "mini-Sammy Sosa," referring to the former Cubs star."Chris was a really great kid," Martinez said. "Ask anyone who knew him. His death has left our family lost and broken."

On Saturday, the San Luis Coastal school board learned of the death from Prater, who sent an email notifying them that a former student was among the victims of the tragedy. A 24-hour relay was being held at the San Luis Obispo High campus on Saturday.

Prater said in his email that grief counseling was being arranged at the relay with assistance from the county mental health department. Counseling would also be available to students on campus Tuesday, he said.

VICTIMS FUND

Heritage Oaks Bank and KSBY-TV have partnered with the Santa Barbara Foundation to set up a fund for the victims of the shooting. Checks and cash donations will be accepted at any of the 17 bank branches in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. All donations are tax-deductible.

Donors may also go to the foundation's website at www.sbfoundation.org to make donations by credit card and designate that the donation should go to the Victims of Isla Vista Fund.

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