A man whose son was among six people killed in a stabbing and shooting rampage in California blamed politicians and the gun lobby on Saturday, asking in an emotional and at times angry speech: “When will this insanity stop?”
Richard Martinez paid tribute to his son who was killed on Friday night when a gunman, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, opened fire in the town of Isla Vista near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
“My son’s name was Christopher Ross Martinez, he was 20 years old and he died last night,” Martinez told reporters, his face contorted with despair and rage.
“Our family has a message for every parent out there: You don’t think it’ll happen to your child until it does,” he said, reading from a statement prepared by the family.
“Chris was a really great kid, ask anyone who knew him. His death has left our family lost and broken,” Martinez said.
His voice shaking with emotion, Martinez rounded on politicians and the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA).
“Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA,” Martinez said, raising his voice.
“They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say stop this madness? We don’t have to live like this,” he said.
“Too many have died. We should say to ourselves: ‘Not one more,’” he said.
Rodger, the son of a Hollywood director, stabbed three people to death in his apartment before gunning down three more people in Isla Vista.
He stalked Isla Vista in his car and on foot, firing on bystanders in a killing spree that ended when he killed himself after a shootout with sheriff’s deputies, police said.
At least 13 people were wounded, eight of whom were shot.
Authorities found three legally purchased semiautomatic guns, two Sig Sauers and a Glock, and more than 400 rounds of unspent ammunition in his car.
In a YouTube video a young man believed by police to be Rodger bitterly complained of loneliness and rejection by women and outlines his plan to kill those he believed spurned him.
“It’s obviously the work of a madman,” Sheriff Bill Brown told a news conference, adding that Rodger had been seen by a variety of healthcare professionals and that it was “very, very apparent he was severely mentally disturbed.”
Witnesses reported seeing someone driving a black BMW through the streets and shooting at people in the beachside community, which is home to many college students.
The Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on Saturday night said that six people were still being treated in its trauma unit as a result of the incident.
Brown said his department had been in contact with Rodger three times prior to the killings, including once after a family member asked them to check on his welfare last month.
Deputies who interviewed Rodger found him to be polite and courteous and took no further action, Brown said.
“He expressed to deputies he was having difficulties with his social life and would probably not be returning to school within the next year,” Brown said, adding that Rodger was not thought to have met the criteria to be held involuntarily.
A crowd of about 5,000 people met at the university campus for a vigil on Saturday, filling Isla Verde’s narrow streets before converging in silence on a local park.