Mourners gathered around the Westlake High School pool deck Monday night to remember one of their beloved former water polo players who was shot and killed in a violent rampage in Isla Vista.
Veronika Weiss, a UC Santa Barbara freshman, was walking outside a sorority house in the beachside college community when she was fatally shot by gunman Elliot Rodger on May 23. She was 19.
- Rampage in Isla Vista: Victims, Photos, Timeline
Her father was grief stricken as he remembered the good times he shared with his daughter on Memorial Day and said he is "sad for everyone" involved in the tragedy.
“She went into everything with such vitality and enthusiasm,” said Bob Weiss. “She was strong, smart, had a great sense of who she was.”
The Weiss family and dozens of others honored Veronika during a vigil Monday night at Westlake High School’s aquatic center.
Mourners wore Weiss' favorite color, purple, or Westlake High School attire as they gathered around the pool where she played water polo (pictured).
"She didn't even live to be 21, the best age there in the world," UCSB student Megan Linder said. "For how intelligent she is, such a sweet person, there's just no way a girl like that can die at a young age for no reason."
Bob said his daughter was looking forward to graduating and wanted to work in the financial area.
Those hopes tragically came to an end when one of Veronika’s sorority sisters called Weiss and told him that they couldn’t get a hold of his daughter.
After hearing about the attack, the Weiss family made their way from their Westlake Village home up to Santa Barbara where they found one of Veronika’s sorority sisters at a hospital.
“We went to the hospital, the emergency room,” Bob said. “There was a girl there, a sister of Veronika. She was going to be released soon.”
With authorities offering the Weiss’ no information, the family drove to one of 12 crime scenes and used a GPS app to track down Veronika’s iPhone.
“The phone was communicating to us Veronika’s exact whereabouts and basically tracked it to the coroner’s office,” Bob said.
Authorities later confirmed what the Weiss family already knew.
“Couple of the sheriff’s ushered us into a nearby church where there were a couple of pastors waiting,” Bob said.
The Weiss family doesn’t know why they lost Veronika, but her father isn’t angry at Rodger, who detailed his plans to carry out the killings in a written manifesto.
“I’m sad for everyone, including the young man and his parents,” Bob said. “They’ve been through hell.”
- Timeline: Isla Vista Mass Shooting
Weiss believes in order to keep these acts of violence from happening again, there needs to be better ways of helping those suffering from a mental illness.
“The kids keep dying,” Bob said. “Guns showing up everywhere.”
Beverly White contributed to this report.