An 8-year-old boy shot and killed along with his teacher in a San Bernardino special-education classroom was born with a genetic condition and had survived heart surgery, a school official said Tuesday.
Jonathan Martinez had Williams syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by learning delays, mild-to-moderate intellectual disabilities and heart problems, according to Dale Marsden, superintendent of the San Bernardino City Unified School District.
"By all accounts, Jonathan Martinez was a happy child," Marsden said at a news conference.
The boy died at a hospital after being shot Monday in his classroom by the estranged husband of his teacher, Karen Smith, who also was killed. The gunman, Cedric Anderson, then fatally shot himself.
A classmate, Jeffrey Imbriani, 7, told The Associated Press that he used to talk and play soccer with Jonathan.
"I know him because one day he just walked up to me and said, 'Can we be friends?' and I said, 'Yeah,' and we've been friends ever since," he said.
Jeffrey said students got out of their chairs and ran outside with their teacher when they heard gunshots.
"I thought they were firecrackers but then the police started coming and then I realized it was gunshots," he said.
He found out about Jonathan's death when he got home and listened to the news.
"I just felt sad," Jeffrey said. "I will think of him as a very best friend."
A 9-year-old classmate who also was struck by gunfire is stable, in good spirits and watching cartoons at a hospital, Marsden said. That boy, whose name was not been released, was expected to recover.
The superintendent said the Martinez family wanted to honor Jonathan's memory by getting the word out about Williams syndrome.
Children with the syndrome tend to have striking verbal abilities and an affinity for music, Marsden said.
"Parents often say the joy and perspective the child with this syndrome brings into their lives can be unimaginable," he said.
Those with the disease often have outgoing personalities, according to the National Institutes of Health, and sometimes also attention deficit disorder and anxieties or phobias.
A candlelight vigil was planned for the victims Tuesday evening 7 p.m. at North Park Elementary. The school will remain closed until Monday, April 17, Marsden said.
If you would like to donate to a GoFundMe account set up to help Jonathan Martinez, you may do so here. Note that GoFundMe deducts 7.9 percent of all funds raised in the form of platform and payment processing charges.