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updated: 5/28/2014 2:02 PM

Students return to class after California rampage

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  • Students cry during a memorial service for the victims and families of Friday's rampage at Harder Stadium on the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara on Tuesday in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif.

      Students cry during a memorial service for the victims and families of Friday's rampage at Harder Stadium on the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara on Tuesday in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

GOLETA, Calif. -- Students returned to classes Wednesday at the University of California, Santa Barbara, after the weekend rampage that left six students and their assailant dead and 13 others injured in nearby Isla Vista.

Some people were eager to resume academic routines in the closing days of the quarter. Others still struggled to cope with the tragedy.

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"It's kind of a relief to get back together with other people, and to see what the professors have to say," said Kelly Frances Dilnessa, 23, of Oroville. "Sometimes you're walking down the street and you feel like giving everybody a hug."

Some students yelled at reporters to go home or cursed them, but many politely declined to speak as they rushed to class after the holiday weekend and Tuesday's suspension of classes for a memorial observance.

Three students were stabbed to death, three were fatally shot, and 13 others were wounded Friday night in the attack by Elliot Rodger, 22, a community college student who had posted an Internet video outlining his plan to slaughter as many people as possible.

Rodger had legally obtained three semi-automatic handguns and still had 400 unspent rounds of ammunition when he shot himself to death, authorities said.

Sharon Tam, a sociology major from El Monte, said it was a depressing situation.

"I just feel like more insecure, I guess. And I really feel unsafe walking around IV," she said, referring to Isla Vista, the unincorporated off-campus community where many students live.

"I did not like expect this in my life at all to ever occur. Especially like in my community," she said. "I just thought we were all just happy people, I guess."

Thousands mourned the deaths at the memorial service.

Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher Michaels-Martinez, 20, died in the attack, spoke at the memorial. He urged students to fight for tougher gun laws and placed the blame on what he called the inaction of politicians.

"They have done nothing, and that's why Chris died," Martinez said. "It's almost become a normal thing for us to accept this."

He exhorted the crowd to chant "Not one more," in reference to such attacks.

In Sacramento, two California Assembly members proposed legislation on Tuesday that would create a gun violence restraining order that could be sought from a judge by law enforcement at the request of family members and friends.

"When someone is in crisis, the people closest to them are often the first to spot the warning signs, but almost nothing can now be done to get back their guns or prevent them from buying more," said Democratic Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, who sponsored the measure with Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara.

Currently, therapists can tell authorities when they fear a client is at risk of committing a violent act. However, there is no prohibition on firearms ownership unless someone has been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.

Another proposal involves establishing statewide protocols for law enforcement officers who are called to check on mentally troubled people.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, suggested that authorities should be required as part of such welfare visits to check whether a person has purchased weapons instead of just talking to the person.

Additional steps could include searching the individual's surroundings and talking to roommates, neighbors and relatives, he said.

"There is a lot we can do to prevent these kinds of horrific events in the future," said Steinberg, who has spent much of his time in the Legislature addressing mental health concerns.

State senators spent 35 minutes at the state Capitol eulogizing the students killed in the weekend violence and expressing frustration that such rampages continue despite previous efforts to end the problem.

The rampage came a month after sheriff's deputies had visited Rodger on a welfare check after his parents became concerned about his postings on YouTube.

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