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Family, friends tell about San Bernardino victims

As stunned communities mourn victims of this week’s massacre in Southern California, more details are emerging about the 14 people killed.

A married couple opened fire Wednesday at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino in the deadly attack that also injured 21 others.

Those killed ranged in age from 26 to 60, with stories of their friends’ and families’ heartbreak just as varied.

There’s a father whose six children will spend the holidays without him. A new father who was planning a Disneyland trip. An easygoing 27-year-old with sparkling eyes and a quick smile.

Here are the people killed and what we know about some of them:

ROBERT ADAMS

Robert Adams loved his family and his mother’s spaghetti sauce.

Adams, 40, married his childhood sweetheart, Summer. Their daughter, Savannah, was 20 months old.

“Robert always wanted to be a father … and cherished every moment with her,” his family said in a statement. “He and Summer and Savannah were inseparable. They were planning Savannah’s first trip to Disneyland next week.”

In a post on an online fundraiser set up for his family, Shawn Brady said he’d known him for years.

“He loved his wife endlessly in the good and the bad,” Brady posted on the page. “He was 100% lost in daddyland with Savannah.”

And Adams always raved about his mother’s spaghetti sauce, according to Brady.

“Him being a health inspector he said his mom’s cooking was up to code,” he said.

MICHAEL WETZEL

“Everyone who knew him just adored him,” said Celia Behar, a family spokeswoman.

Michael Wetzel’s wife, Renee, described the father of six as “the most amazing person” she knew.

“He was her best friend. He was an amazing father and was loved by all,” Behar said.

Wetzel worked for the San Bernardino environmental health department.

He was 37.

BENNETTA BETBADAL

The mother of three moved to the United States from Iran to escape religious persecution.

Bennetta Betbadal, 46, first settled in New York, and she eventually moved to California with her husband, Arlen Verdehyou.

“Everything she touched bloomed,” Verdehyou told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “She went above and beyond.”

NICHOLAS THALASINOS

Nicholas Thalasinos was passionate about his beliefs, a friend said.

So much so, Thalasinos, 52, had a “heated, passionate conversation” about politics and religion with the gunman days before the shooting, Kuuleme Stephens said.

Stephens said that a few days earlier, she had called Thalasinos when he was in the middle of a conversation with the man later identified as the gunman. She described the talk as “calm and collected.”

After reports of the shooting emerged, Thalasinos’ wife said she hoped for a miracle.

“The waiting was excruciating, because you’re trying to hold out hope,” Jennifer Thalasinos told CNN affiliate KTLA-TV.

He didn’t make it out alive.

YVETTE VELASCO

Yvette Velasco, 27, had sparkling eyes and an easy, contagious smile.

“She was a bright young girl who showed a caring heart to everyone,” colleague Omar Bashir said. “She worked hard and never gave up on her dream.”

Devastated relatives said they are “still processing this nightmare.”

“Yvette was an intelligent, motivated, and beautiful young woman, who was full of life and loved by all who knew her,” her family said in a statement.

She leaves behind her parents and three sisters.

DANIEL KAUFMAN

Daniel Kaufman worked at a coffee shop at the site of the shooting, and he had a larger-than-life personality.

He was the kind of man who chatted up strangers in checkout lines at grocery stores, said his boyfriend, Ryan Reyes.

“The man could have a 30-minute conversation with a cashier about his cats … and I would literally have to pull him away,” he said.

“One of those guys that everybody loved, got along with everybody, the life of the party, always funny, always creative.”

Kaufman was 42.

DAMIAN MEINS

The 58-year-old loved dressing up as Santa, to the delight of children at a local school.

Damian Meins was kind and loving, and he laughed easily, friends told The Press-Enterprise.

“He was an amazing guy, we’ll all miss him,” former co-worker Dottie Merki told the paper.

Meins was a 1975 graduate of Notre Dame High School in Los Angeles, where the football team will put his initials on their helmets Friday night.

“Damien loved Notre Dame, and often volunteered time with us as a member of the football team ‘Chain Gang,’ ” the school said in a statement. “His death has affected our community deeply. He will be missed.”

He worked at the environmental health services agency.

SHANNON JOHNSON

On his LinkedIn page, Johnson described himself as a “hard working professional” who had been with San Bernardino County for nearly 11 years.

The 45-year-old rose before dawn each day to travel more than 60 miles between the Los Angeles home he shared with his girlfriend and his San Bernardino office, according to a statement from the Los Angeles mayor’s office.

But there was more, so much more to him, his family said Friday.

“Shannon was a generous, fun-loving soul, who very much loved his family and friends. Shannon was a protector to all of those he loved. Shannon was friendly and easy to know, making friends everywhere he traveled,” according to the family statement.

He loved going for walks, attending concerts and “hanging out at his favorite tattoo parlor,” the family wrote.

“Shannon believed in the greatness of love, equality and kindness and treated others accordingly. All who knew him will miss him more than we can ever say, and our thoughts and prayers are with the other families who are grieving the loss of their loved ones.”

The others have been identified as:

• Aurora Godoy, 26, of San Jacinto.

• Isaac Amanios, 60, of Fontana.

• Harry Bowman, 46, of Upland.

• Sierra Clayborn, 27, of Moreno Valley.

• Tin Nguyen, 31, of Santa Ana.

• Juan Espinoza, 50, of Highland.

 

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