ISLA VISTA (CBSLA.com/AP) — A 22-year-old gunman reportedly went on a drive-by shooting rampage late Friday night near UC Santa Barbara, killing six people and injuring seven others, before suffering a fatal gunshot wound.
The violence erupted around 9:30 p.m. Friday west of the campus in the college town of Isla Vista, hours after the suspect posted a video on YouTube detailing his plans to “slaughter” students.
Officials say a gunman driving a black BMW carried out the shootings at several different locations, and police were investigating nine crime scenes. Those streets were scheduled to be closed until 5 p.m. Saturday.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference Saturday morning that seven people were killed, including the gunman, and seven wounded. One of those injured, one was listed in critical condition and had to undergo surgery. Authorities haven’t released their identities, but UCSB confirmed several victims were students.
Relatives identified one of the fatalities as 20-year-old Christopher Ross Michael-Martinez, killed when shots rang out at a convenience store.
Michael-Martinez’s father Richard Martinez choked back tears as he talked to reporters Saturday, saying “When will this insanity stop?”
Brown said the rampage ended when the suspect exchanged gunfire with deputies, drove off and crashed into a parked car.
Deputies found the suspect inside the BMW dead from a gunshot wound to the head, but it wasn’t immediately clear if he had been shot by deputies or committed suicide. Investigators recovered a semiautomatic handgun from the vehicle. No deputies were injured.
Hours later, police say they discovered three of the victims in the suspect’s apartment. He had reportedly stabbed his roommates to death in their sleep.
Several Isla Vista residents who witnessed the shootings were trying to cope with what they saw.
Alexander Mattera, 23, said his friend Chris Johnson, was walking out of an improv comedy show when he was shot in front of a popular pizza place. He stumbled into a nearby house.
“He walked into these random guys’ house bleeding,” he said.
Mattera was sitting at a bonfire with friends when at least one gunshot whizzed overhead. The friends ran for cover when they heard the barrage of gunfire.
“We heard so many gunshots. It was unbelievable. I thought they were firecrackers. There had to have been at least like two guns. There were a lot of shots,” he said.
A visibly shaken student told the station she was approached by the driver of a black BMW who flashed a handgun and asked “Hey, what’s up?” The student, who didn’t provide her full name, said she thought he was carrying an airsoft gun and kept walking. She said seconds later, she felt something buzz by her head and quickly realized they were bullets.
Kathrin Schirazi Rad got a call from her 21-year-old son, Adrian Timothy Petersson, who told her in a shaky voice that he had been knocked off his skateboard by a BMW being chased by police about 9 p.m. Friday. He hurt his shoulder, but he went home after being checked by first responders to the scene.
“He was in shock,” said Rad, who lives in Sweden. “He saw some plastic bags and said somebody must have died. He couldn’t confirm anything. He was pretty shaken up. It was so many things happening at the same time.”
The suspect posted a video Friday on YouTube detailing his plans, at one point even saying, “I’ll take pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You’ll finally see that I am the superior one, that I am the alpha male,” before chuckling.
Relatives identify the man in the video as Santa Barbara Community College student Elliot Rodger and believe he’s the gunman. Rodger’s father, Peter Rodger, an assistant director on “The Hunger Games” film series.
That video has since been removed from his YouTube channel but you can watch portions of it here:
Rodger can be heard saying, “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. I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires, all because girls have never been attracted to me…
“I’m 22 years old and I’m still a virgin, I’ve never even kissed a girl…you girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls are not attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it.
“It’s an injustice, a crime, because I don’t know what you don’t see in me — I’m the perfect guy. And, yet, you throw yourselves at obnoxious men, instead of me.”
Rodger elaborates on his loneliness in these videos:
Isolation and rejection were recurring themes in his social media posts. This is one of two tweets on his Twitter account:
— Elliot Rodger (@ElliotRodgerGod) April 19, 2014
Students say the suspect’s family should have done more to intervene after seeing the videos.
“I feel like his family should have known that he had mental problems, and they should have gotten him help. Because he was making videos before this happened, like he had a YouTube channel and was posting all these videos about being lonely, and about being jealous of couples,” UCSB student Autumn Latour said. “Apparently, his family saw them…I don’t know how that wasn’t a wake-up call for his parents.”
The suspect’s family was aware their son needed help and he was being treated by “multiple professionals,” according to attorney Alan Shifman.
Elliot Rodgers was diagnosed at an earlier age with Asperger Syndrome, a highly-functional form of autism characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication.
The Rodger family called police several weeks ago after being alarmed by several of his videos “regarding suicide and the killing of people.” A social worker as recently as last week was concerned by Rodger’s behavior and contacted law enforcement.
Police interviewed Rodger and found him to be a “perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human,” the attorney said.
Shifman says the Rodger family is too distraught to speak publicly. They send their “deepest condolences” to the victims and their families.
Meanwhile, University of California President Janet Napolitano issued the following statement:
“I am shocked and deeply saddened by the news of a mass shooting last night in the Isla Vista area near UC Santa Barbara. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy, their families and the entire Santa Barbara community. I have been in touch with UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang since the news broke, and have told him the UC Office of the President will assist his campus in any way we can.”
Napolitano said the school has set up a room for arriving families to handle their questions. Grief counselors were made available “to any students, faculty and staff who need our support.”
Family and friends who were concerned they may know a victim can call (805) 893-3901 for more informaton. Counselors were made available at (805) 893-4411.
Isla Vista has a reputation for excessive partying. Last month, an annual spring bash spiraled into violence as young people clashed with police and tossed rocks and bottles. A university police officer and four deputies were injured and 130 people were arrested.
The community has experienced other tragedies in the past.
In 2001, the son of “Ally McBeal” TV director Daniel Attias ran down four pedestrians with his car on a crowded Isla Vista street. Witnesses testified that part-time college student David Attias got of the car and shouted: “I am the angel of death.”
David Attias was ruled insane after he was convicted of second-degree murder and is locked up in a state mental hospital.
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