An ROTC cadet and student at Cal State Fullerton committed suicide Tuesday night at his house in Huntington Beach.
Roy Lopez, 21, who was on the ROTC’s color guard team and a class leader in his military science class, was known for his “beautiful big, bright smile” and his joking personality.
Lopez shot himself in his bedroom of his family’s Huntington Beach home Tuesday around 5:30 p.m., said Lopez’s mother, Adriana Mraz.
The official cause of death was still being investigated by the Orange County Coroner’s Office Wednesday night.
“I can’t say anything until the autopsy is complete. We have to do our full investigation and examination,” said Allison O’Neil, supervising deputy coroner for the Coroner’s Office.
Lopez was a sophomore psychology major in his third semester in the ROTC program but was not in the Army yet. ROTC cadets have two years to contract with the Army, meaning they pledge to join the Army upon graduating from the program.
Lopez was enrolled in ROTC classes, but he was not yet contracted, said Lt. Col. Kelley Donham, a military science professor and ROTC instructor at CSUF.
Lopez was planning on contracting in January.
ROTC members were notified about Lopez’s suicide in a meeting before physical training at 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to Alexandra Montiel, a public affairs officer for CSUF ROTC.
“All I can speak for Roy is that he was always positive and happy and joking around so everyone basically was in shock that he would have done such a thing because he never gave a sign for anything,” said Montiel.
Lopez was following his older brother’s footsteps in wanting to join the Army, Mraz said.
“He was very proud of following his brother’s footsteps in trying to achieve a name for himself and a career … he was extremely thrilled to join Cal State Fullerton and … participate in the ROTC,” said Mraz.
Mraz said one of Lopez’s biggest assets was that he was always respectful to people and had a gentle heart. She said she will remember his kindness.
According to Mraz, Lopez had become distraught after a breakup with his ex-girlfriend a week before the suicide.
“I think he was just in despair because she kept text messaging him and calling him and telling him that he didn’t do enough—he didn’t give her enough stuff,” Mraz said.
The family of Lopez’s ex-girlfriend declined to comment.
Lopez will be remembered by his friends and family. A Roy Lopez remembrance Facebook page created Wednesday night already had 78 likes. “He had a smile that people can notice,” the page’s bio states.
“He was an outstanding cadet, and he was really passionate about what he did,” Montiel said.
Mraz said Lopez had “the most gentle heart.” He would have someone’s back without thinking twice, she said.
“He’ll be greatly missed by everyone. He’s left a big imprint in our lives and he leaves a void,” Mraz said.