Boy Killed in School Shooting Had Rare Genetic Condition

'The happiest kid you'll ever meet'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2017 9:11 AM CDT
Boy Killed in School Shooting Had Rare Genetic Condition
"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," says classmate Jeffrey Imbriani.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Jonathan Martinez, the 8-year-old boy killed in Monday's San Bernardino school shooting, was "the happiest kid you'll ever meet" despite the rare genetic condition he suffered from, says teaching assistant Jennifer Downing. Jonathan was born with Williams syndrome, which affects around one in 10,000 people and causes developmental delays as well as heart problems, the AP reports. But the genetic condition, which the boy's family want to raise awareness of, also makes children friendly and sociable, qualities Jonathan was known and loved for at North Park Elementary, the San Bernardino Sun reports. Downing says Jonathan, who had already undergone heart surgery once, was also the best reader in the class.

Jonathan was killed in his special-needs classroom when Cedric Anderson opened fire on his estranged wife, teacher Karen Smith. Fellow teacher Diane Abrams says the boy's sweet nature makes the violent manner of his death even harder to deal with." He was so special to teach. He was curious to learn and wanted to do his very best," she tells the Los Angeles Times. "He'd sit with his hands folded at his desk and look at me and say, 'Ms. Abrams, am I being an all-star?'" A GoFundMe page set up to help the family has so far raised more than $121,000 of its $10,000 goal. Nolan Brandy, the 9-year-old boy wounded in the shooting, was still in the hospital Wednesday but was recovering and in good spirits, his family says. (More school shooting stories.)

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