Isla Vista shootings: Source names suspect in shooting rampage
A law enforcement source told The Times that Elliot Rodger is the suspected gunman responsible for a shooting rampage in the Isla Vista neighborhood near UC Santa Barbara that left seven people dead, including Rodger.
Santa Barbara County sheriff’s officials, who have not identified the man suspected of shooting and running people down with his BMW, said they believe the rampage was premeditated.
They have said they are looking at a video titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution” in which a young man who identifies himself on his blog as a student in Santa Barbara threatens violence.
“I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one, the true alpha male,” the man says on the video, sitting in a car.
Rodger’s father, Peter, said through an attorney that he believes Elliot Rodger is the suspect. “I cannot confirm that but we believe it,” the attorney, Alan Shifman, told reporters gathered in front of the family’s home in Woodland Hills.
“Police would not tell us with 100% certainty” that it’s his son, the attorney said. He said he hasn’t seen the video allegedly made by Elliot Rodger in which he talks about his plans. But “from what I understand, it was disturbing,” Shifman said.
On the six-minute video, the young man talks about feeling alienated and rejected by women.
“I will be a god compared to you. You will all be animals. You are animals, and I will slaughter you like animals. I hate all of you. Humanity is a disgusting, wretched, depraved species,” he says.
“Yes, after I have annihilated every single girl in the sorority house I’ll take to the streets of Isla Vista and slay every single person I see there.”
The father, Peter Rodger, was an assistant director on the 2012 film “The Hunger Games.” He also directed a 2009 documentary, “Oh My God,” in which various people were asked to answer the question “What is God?”
“The Rodger’s family offers our deepest compassion and sympathies to the families involved in this terrible tragedy,” the family said in a statement. “We are experiencing the most inconceivable pain and our hearts go out to everyone involved.”
Neighbor Boris Bakalinsky said he knows the father and his son. He said the elder Rodger had lived in the neighborhood for about 20 years.
“The boy, it’s just shocking, we just never expected it,” Bakalinsky said.
He said Elliot Rodger was always quiet but very polite, saying hello every time he walked his dog in the neighborhood. He said he thinks he lived part-time with his father, who was separated from his wife.
He said Peter Rodger dedicated his life to his kids and was always with his family. Bakalinsky said he told the young man, “listen you have to look at your father, he’s a nice father, and follow his example.”
Other neighbors said the family had lived there for a long time but that they didn’t know them.
In Isla Vista, witnesses described a horrific scene on Friday night around 9:30 p.m., when the shooting began, hearing gunshots and a skateboarder being struck by a black BMW 328i racing at speeds of 45 mph in a densely packed, student-dominated community along the coast.
One student described seeing a skateboarder coming down Sabado Tarde Road, and then suddenly seeing a car behind him rev up, striking him.
“His skateboard flew in the air,” said E.J. Debowski, 23, a senior at UCSB. “His face was bloody, but he was able to respond to our questions.”
The skateboarder was able to limp to a wooden fence and lean on it. The sounds of gunshots quickly filled the air and some ran back into their homes, while others stayed with the skateboarder to help.
The gunman, who was killed, opened fire from inside a black BMW, witnesses said.
UC Santa Barbara junior Andrew Jun, 20, of Diamond Bar, was settling in Friday night with friends around 9:30 p.m. at his duplex when he heard what he thought were firecrackers and then got a call from a friend warning him that a speeding car popping out gunshots was headed toward his home in the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive.
Another friend had already been struck by the car, and has his face bloodied.
“He says, ‘Hey, some guy was in his BMW, driving crazily down the street, trying to hit people.’ He didn’t see a gun, but he heard gunshots coming from the car, the crazy part he was trying to hit people,” Jun said.
Jun raced up his balcony after hearing more gunshots and sirens, and by the time he got there, the BMW had crashed into another car, smashing its windshield and deploying the airbags. The driver’s door was already open.
“There were already two cops near the BMW and about maybe 15 more swarming in with assault rifles,” Jun said.
Jun said he was horrified at what happened. “It’s kind of unbelievable such a thing could happen,” he said. “I don’t think that his actions should speak for all of [the] students here at UCSB.”
Lauren Wardlow, 23, described what she saw as she stepped outside after hearing sirens.
“I had just gotten out of the shower and was like, ‘Do you hear those sirens?’” Wardlow said. “We went outside to look and some guy yelled at us, ‘There’s an active shooter, get back inside!’”
“I’ve been here six years and never, ever seen anything like this,” Wardlow said. “I’m shocked and I’m sad. These are fellow UCSB students ... innocent kids. It hits so close to home.”
Jahangir Siddiqui, a UC Santa Barbara senior originally from San Diego, said he heard about 30 gunshots in total. Siddiqui saw the suspect in the car, looking “bloodied, his body looked limp.”
He said it was unclear if the suspect was still alive or just unconscious at that moment. Eventually, authorities dragged the body out of the car. They laid the body on the street, and covered it with a yellow tarp.
Officers came around at 2 a.m. to talk to people living in his apartment.
Siddiqui said what he saw was “traumatic” and shouldn’t be a reflection on the UCSB community.
“I don’t know what to think, it’s pretty shocking,” he said. “It’s really unsettling for a crazy event like this to happen.
“It happens in other places, it doesn’t happen here,” he said. “I feel like my pride as a UCSB student is hurt. It was a crazy, sick kid acting on his own. It shouldn’t be a reflection on us.”
Six minutes after the first 911 call came in, the gunman began shooting at deputies, who returned fire. He fled in his car and seconds later was spotted by another deputy, prompting another firefight.
He then took off down Del Playa Drive and crashed into a parked vehicle, the Sheriff’s Department said. When deputies approached the vehicle they discovered the man was dead and recovered a semiautomatic handgun.
Seven other people were being treated for gunshot wounds or traumatic injuries; their conditions are unknown. At least one of them has undergone surgery.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown called the shootings “horrific” and said officials are investigating a “chaotic series of crime scenes,” at least nine of them scattered throughout Isla Vista.
“We have obtained, and we are currently analyzing, both written and videotaped evidence that suggests that this atrocity was a premeditated mass murder,” Brown said.
The stunning eruption of violence brought to mind the carnage that occurred on Feb. 23, 2001, when a UCSB freshman named David Attias deliberately plowed his Saab into a Friday night crowd milling along an Isla Vista street. Four died and a fifth was critically injured.
Attias, who emerged from the car declaring he was “the angel of death,” was found legally insane when he was tried for murder in 2002. Ten years later, a Santa Barbara judge ruled that Attias, then 30, was “clearly not the same vacant, troubled and confused David Attias” he had seen while presiding over his trial. The judge agreed with therapists at Patton State Hospital, who recommended his transfer to a less restrictive setting.
Attias, the son of Hollywood director Daniel Attias, was seen by other students as a troubled young man in his few months at UCSB. In court, medical experts said he had bipolar disorder.
“People tried to avoid him because he was really weird,” a dorm mate told The Times. “He’d be walking around the cafeteria with his tray and we’d all put our heads down.”
His transfer to an outpatient treatment center in 2012 was opposed by relatives of those who died at his hands, who contended he still posed a risk.
Times staff writers Amanda Covarrubias, Adolfo Flores and Irfan Khan in Isla Vista contributed to this report, as did Matt Stevens, Rosanna Xia and Rong-Gong Lin II in Los Angeles.
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