Tragedy in Isla Vista

 

Thousands of college students and Isla Vista residents came together Saturday evening for a candle-lit vigil in Storke Plaza on the UC Santa Barbara campus in honor of the victims of a killing spree the previous night that left six of the school’s students dead and 13 other Isla Vista residents injured. The alleged shooter, Elliot Rodger, was also killed during the rampage.

“Isla Vista has experienced a tragic loss and the community is shaken,” said a Facebook page created on Saturday to organize the vigil. “Tonight, let us all come together to heal, comfort each other, and to pay tribute to the members of our community who are no longer with us.”

Following the introduction to the vigil, attendees walked about a mile to Anisqoyo Park in the heart of Isla Vista. There, a stage with an open mic provided the opportunity for students and community members to share their feelings and experiences with pained but resilient peers.

UCSB  Chancellor Henry Yang, one of the first to take a moment on the microphone, encouraged students to draw strength and comfort from each other.

Less than 100 yards away a small shrine made of candles and flowers had been erected outside of the I.V. Deli Mart on Pardall Road, where 20-year-old Christopher Michaels-Martinez was shot dead a day before. A smaller crowd, those who did not prefer the crush inside Anisqoyo Park, pay silent homage there.

 


 

Brooks Visual Journalism student, Kamilo Bustamante was in Isla Vista at the time of the shooting. He witnessed the tragedy first hand through his camera. Below, he wrote a personal reflection on his perspective of what transpired that night.

 

It was 9:22 p.m. when I heard the first shots. I was excited to be in Isla Vista, Santa Barbara as it was a Friday night and my cousin who I hadn’t seen for months was in town from Chico State. We planned on spending the night together along with friends, enjoying the festivities of Del Playa Dr. Little did we know, these festivities would soon come to an abrupt and tragic end.

I was indoors when the shooting took place; at a house party off of Trigo Rd. and Camino Del Sur. It was difficult to hear the shots above the noise of the party, which lead us to believe that the sound had come from firecrackers. It wasn’t until I saw people running and heard the sound of screaming and approaching sirens that I realized we had just heard gun fire.

I was in a daze, not sure what to do as I saw friends crying and gripping each other; desperately calling their friends and peers in hope of their safety. As a non-resident of Isla Vista I did not directly know anyone who could have been harmed; but for those around me the fear was devastating.

As the gunshots ceased, I put aside my fear and ran to my car; there was something I had to do. Grabbing my camera, I set out to photograph what happened. At this point I was alone, no one from my group dared venture the streets with me after what happened. I only walked a block before I ran into a police line; meaning that I was within a block of the incident when it happened. I was scared to find what was on the other side. The scene was scattered with police officers, fire fighters, and paramedics; radio crackles blasting over the groans of the wounded and the horrified gasps of the onlookers. I ducked under the yellow police tape and turned on my camera.