Grieving fathers linked by California massacre meet privately

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 02, 2014 3:11 PM

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A grieving father calling for tougher gun laws since his son was shot dead in a recent California killing spree spoke face to face over the weekend with the anguished father of the young man who committed the slayings and took his own life.

Richard Martinez, whose 20-year-old son, Christopher, was one of six college students slain by Elliot Rodger on May 20 near Santa Barbara, met privately on Sunday with the gunman's father, Peter Rodger, according to a person who was present.

Simon Astaire, a longtime friend of the elder Rodger, who works as a director in Hollywood, declined to reveal any details of the encounter or how it came about except to say that it occurred in a private home.

But Santa Barbara television station KEYT-TV said Martinez gave it a brief statement by telephone after the meeting.

"I have met with Peter Rodger, and we plan to work together so other families such as ours will not suffer as ours have," he was quoted as saying. "This was a private conversation between grieving fathers who've reached common ground."

Martinez did not elaborate on what the two men discussed, or on how they hoped to help prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future, KEYT said.

Authorities say Elliot Rodger, 22, stabbed to death two roommates and a third college student visiting them and fatally shot three more students, including Christopher Michael-Martinez, before taking his own life in the town of Isla Vista, near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Rodger, a college dropout with a history of mental illness, posted a threatening video on YouTube shortly before the slayings ranting against women for never showing interest in him and vowing retribution.

He wrote in a separate manifesto that police who had checked on his welfare at his mother's request weeks before the killings nearly foiled his plans but failed to discover his cache of weapons because they neglected to search his room.

Addressing a UCSB memorial service for the victims days after the killings, Richard Martinez exhorted the students to lobby their elected officials for stricter gun control laws, leading the crowd in chants of "Not one more!" He has delivered a similar message in several television appearances.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jim Loney)