GOLETA (CBSLA.com/AP) — A lawyer says the family of a 22-year-old man they believe went on a shooting rampage near UC Santa Barbara called police several weeks ago after being alarmed by YouTube videos “regarding suicide and the killing of people.”
Police interviewed Elliot Rodger, a Santa Barbara Community College student, and found him to be a “perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human,” family attorney Alan Shifman said.
Shifman is the attorney for Peter Rodger, who was an assistant director on “The Hunger Games” film series. He says the Rodger family sends their “deepest condolences” to the victims and their families, and are “extremely, extremely upset.”
“My clients’ mission in life will be to try and prevent any such tragedies from ever happening again. This country, this world needs to address mental illness and the ramifications from not recognizing these illnesses,” Shifman said.
The attorney says the Rodger family is staunchly against guns.
Six people were killed Friday night during a shooting in the college town and beachside community of Isla Vista, according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. The suspected gunman was also fatally shot. Seven people remain hospitalized with gunshot wounds or other injuries, including one who has undergone surgery.
Describing the atrocity as “premeditated mass murder,” Brown said, authorities were analyzing a disturbing YouTube video posted Friday that appears to be connected to the attack. It shows Rodger describing plans to shoot women that appears to be connected to the attack.
“It’s obviously the work of a mad man,” Brown said.
In the video, Rodger sits in a black car and looks at the camera, laughing often, and says he is going to take his revenge against humanity. He describes loneliness and frustration because “girls have never been attracted to me,” and says, at age 22, he is still a virgin. The video, which is almost seven minutes long, appears scripted.
The suspect’s family was aware their son needed help and he was being treated by “multiple professionals,” the attorney said. 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.
A social worker as recently as last week was concerned by Rodger’s behavior and contacted law enforcement.
Shifman said police did not find a history of guns, but did say the man had trouble making friends and didn’t have any girlfriends. He allegedly was bullied throughout his life, citing a recent episode where he fell or was thrown off a balcony at a college party.
Rodger was living with roommates at the Independent Living Institute in Santa Barbara, a facility that offers “living skills instruction to help adults with disabilities to live more independently in their communities,” according to the website.
Neighbors of the Rodger family, Boris and Svetlana Bakalinsky, say Peter Rodger always took care of his son and the family was “nice” and close-knit. They didn’t know the suspect personally but say he was always cordial in passing and seemed intelligent.
At a Saturday news conference, officials said Rodger fatally stabbed three roommates before going on his gun rampage.
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