SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — A 22-year-old college student taped a chilling video vowing a “day of retribution” against women who had sexually shunned him, then went on a murderous rampage Friday night in the seaside college community of Isla Vista, close to the University of California at Santa Barbara.
The shooter, identified by authorities as Elliot Rodger, 22, killed six people, including three men whom police discovered stabbed to death in Rodger’s Isla Vista apartment.
Rodger then shot three university students to death and injured 13 people, including four struck by his black BMW as he careened across town exchanging gunfire with sheriff’s deputies.
He crashed his vehicle into a parked car, and when the deputies pulled him out and handcuffed him, they could clearly see that he was dead from a gunshot wound to the head, likely self-inflicted, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Saturday night at a news conference.
The video, uploaded Friday to YouTube, and a separate, 141-page manifesto written by Rodger and detailing his plans suggest that “this atrocity was a premeditated mass murder,” Brown said.
The mass murder joins a long list of recent incidents — including in Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; and the Mall in Columbia, Md. — in which a young man, mentally disturbed, has tried to shoot as many people as possible to avenge some perceived slight or societal injustice.
Once again, there is the element of theatricality. In this case it took the form of the self-pitying “selfie” video in which Rodger, sitting behind the wheel of his luxury car, discussed his planned shooting spree as if he were a loquacious villain in a Hollywood movie.
“Hi. Elliot Rodger here,” the video began. “Well, this is my last video. It all has to come to this. Tomorrow is the day of retribution. The day in which I will have my revenge against humanity. Against all of you.”
In the video, which quickly spread across the Internet on Saturday, Rodger vows to enter the “hottest sorority” at the university and “slaughter every single spoiled stuck-up blond slut I see inside there.” He snickers as he ponders the crime and then says he will take to the streets of Isla Vista and “slay” every person he sees.
The suspected gunman had a Hollywood connection: He was the son of Peter Rodger, an art photographer who served as the assistant director on the first “Hunger Games” installment. Peter Rodger, in turn, is the son of the late British photojournalist George Rodger, co-founder of Magnum Photos.
Elliot Rodger’s Facebook page is striking for the number of images of Rodger himself — including many head shots, as if he were posing for publicity stills. One image shows him with his father at the premiere of one of the “Hunger Games” movies. There are images of landscapes and fancy cars, but few other people, or any sign of close friends.
He uploaded numerous videos to YouTube showing him driving his car on California roads. In one posted Friday, Rodger winks at the camera while listening to Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know.”
“I consider myself a sophisticated, polite gentleman, unlike most boys my age,” he wrote in his Google+ profile. “My father is of British descent, and my mother is of Asian descent, so that makes me a Eurasian. I enjoy hiking, exercising, watching sunsets, traveling, cars, fashion, going to nice restaurants, and going to parties.”
But in a post in April, he bemoaned his loneliness in Santa Barbara: “As I’ve said many times, a beautiful environment can be the darkest hell if you have to experience it all alone, especially while having to watch other men walking around with their girlfriends. I wish girls were attracted to me. I don’t know why they aren’t.”
The Associated Press reported that Alan Shifman, an attorney for Peter Rodger, issued a statement on behalf of the Rodger family identifying Elliot as the shooter and offering “their deepest condolences to all of the victims’ families involved.”
Shifman said the family had been concerned by the young man’s erratic behavior in recent weeks and that law enforcement officials had interviewed him and found him to be “polite and kind.”
Shifman said the younger Rodger was a student at Santa Barbara City College. He said Rodger had been seeing multiple therapists, and that a social worker had contacted police recently about him.
Brown, the county sheriff, said authorities had had three encounters with Rodger, including a domestic assault case last year and a strange incident earlier this year when Rodger made a citizen’s arrest of his roommate for stealing three candles valued at $22.
After Rodger’s family requested that officials check on his welfare, deputies on April 30 visited the young man, who, though complaining about his social life, seemed sufficiently pleasant that the deputies felt no need to make a report, Brown said. “He was polite and courteous,” the sheriff said.
Rodger owned three 9mm semiautomatic handguns, all legally purchased in his own name, and he had enough ammunition for a massacre — 41 magazines with 10 rounds each, Brown said. Two of the guns were Sig Sauer P226s and one was a Glock 34.
Police received the first report of gunfire at 9:27 p.m. Friday in Isla Vista, a village surrounded by the university that is about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
As Brown related the sequence of events:
Rodger first killed the three men at his apartment. Next, he stopped at the Alpha Phi sorority. He pounded on the door violently for two minutes, but no one answered. He eventually retreated across the street.
Moments later, he shot three female students who had been walking down the sidewalk. Two died, and a third who suffered multiple gunshot wounds survived. The two women who were killed were identified by Brown as Katherine Cooper, 22, and Veronika Weiss, 19, both UCSB students.
The gunman then began driving wildly around town, firing into businesses and at people on the sidewalk. He killed a UCSB student who was a customer at a deli.
“He slowed down and drove by the store and shot into the store and drove away,” said Michael Hassan, 33, owner of I.V. Deli Mart. He said six or seven shots came through the deli’s glass windows. “A customer is dead. . . . You never hear of drive-by shootings in Santa Barbara.”
Cayla Bergman, 19, a sophomore who was working at a pizza restaurant, said it had been a typical Friday night until she heard “booms.”
“I hear a lot of fireworks go off, so I didn’t process it at the time, until everyone ran into the store and said, ‘Someone got shot! Someone got shot!’ It was really scary,” she said.
Rodger exchanged gunfire with sheriff’s deputies, many of them on foot, and continued to shoot at pedestrians as he drove through the community. He was hit by a bullet in the hip before crashing his car and apparently committing suicide.
When investigators went to his apartment afterward, they found the three men stabbed to death.
“It was a pretty horrific crime scene,” Brown said.
Christopher Ross Martinez, a 20-year-old university student, died after being shot in the deli. His father, Richard Martinez, held a brief, emotional news conference late Saturday.
“Our family has a message for every parent out there: You don’t think it’ll happen to your child until it does,” the grieving father said. “His death has left our family lost and broken. Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop?”
According to Stephen Kaminski, trauma director at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, seven of the wounded were still in the hospital’s trauma center as of Saturday night.
This is not the first mass killing in Isla Vista: In 2001, David Attias, the son of a film director, ran over five people in a car, killing four of them. He was convicted of second-degree murder, then ruled insane and sentenced to a mental hospital.
The university community gathered Saturday night on campus for a prayer vigil.
Achenbach reported from Washington. Mark Berman, Casey Capachi, Adam Goldman and Julie Tate contributed to this report.