Boy with Williams Syndrome is Among the San Bernadino School Shooting Victims

A few days ago on April 10, 2017, a terrible tragedy took place in San Bernadino, California. An angry gunman entered a special education classroom in North Park Elementary School and shot teacher Karen Elaine Smith, and two students before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide. One student survived, one did not.

Eight-year-old Jonathan Martinez, who had Williams syndrome, died of his injuries at the hospital, while his nine-year-old classmate was hospitalized in stable condition.

There is an inherent sadness when innocent children are the victims of violence, whether her in the United States, or in places far away, like Syria. In addition to grief, we feel tremendous anger at the injustice of it all.

Jonathan was a very special boy and brought much happiness to his family, classmates, and teachers. He’d already survived heart surgery which was necessitated by his congenital condition. With this particular syndrome, patients have learning difficulties, and as they age, those disabilities affect spatial recognition. They are prone to cardiovascular disease at a very young age, and their bodies often have problems regulating calcium and vitamin D.

Okay, that said, children with Williams syndrome frequently have special gifts. They are creative, talkative, and very friendly. This is engaging among children, but as the Williams Syndrome child ages, the ability to recognize social cues fails to develop, and as a result, forming lasting relationships becomes harder and harder. For more information about these symptoms, the Williams Syndrome Association is a wonderful resource.

Jonathan’s parents hope that the loss of their son will help raise awareness about Williams syndrome. A GoFundMe account has been set-up to help with funeral expenses and the needs of the family

We at Patient Worthy, send our sincere condolences to Jonathan’s family and to all who have been affected by this senseless act of violence.


Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn is passionate about raising awareness of rare diseases and disorders and helping people connect with the resources that may ease their journey. Erica has been a caregiver, and is a patient, herself, so she completely relates to the rare disease community--on a deeply personal level.

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