Santa Barbara Mass Shooting: Son of 'Hunger Games' Second Unit Director Is Suspected Gunman
A 22-year-old gunman killed six people in an Isla Vista rampage that began with a 140-page manifesto and an apartment stabbing and ended with a crashed BMW and an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"It all has to come to this," Elliot Rodger stated during a nearly seven-minute "Retribution" video uploaded to YouTube on May 23. He later added: "After I've 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."
Rodger, who died of a gunshot wound in the BMW, is the son of Hunger Games second unit director Peter Rodger. He had been a student who attended Santa Barbara City College classes sporadically since 2011.
The Santa Barbara sheriff's office had made contact with Rodger three times prior to the mass shooting, including an April 30 incident where deputies followed up on a request from a family member who asked that police check on his welfare.
"The deputies contacted the suspect, at the time found him to be polite and courteous, he downplayed the concerns for his welfare and the deputies cleared the call,” stated Sheriff Bill Brown at a Saturday evening press conference carried live on local stations and cable broadcasters.
The first three victims in the later rampage were "stabbed repeatedly with sharp objects" in Rodger's apartment, the next two were shot outside the Alpha Phi sorority and the last victim was killed at a local deli, the sheriff stated. Thirteen people were injured during the shootings, including multiple bicyclists that authorities said were hit with Rodger's vehicle.
Rodger was armed with multiple handguns, all legally purchased. Three 9-mm semi-automatic handguns were found in his vehicle.
"It would appear as though he took his own life," Sheriff Brown said.
Peter Rodger's attorney, Alan Shifman, earlier confirmed by phone to The Hollywood Reporter that the family had contacted police about Elliot several weeks prior to the shooting. Shifman also said that the college student had been seeing a social worker and therapists recently.
The Associated Press earlier quoted Shifman saying that police were contacted after YouTube clips were uploaded "regarding suicide and the killing of people." The 140-page manifesto is titled "My Twisted World The Story of Elliot Rodger."
The shooting on Friday occurred in 10 different crime scene areas in the college town located near the University of California, Santa Barbara. Late Saturday, the Santa Barbara sheriff's office issued an updated statement piecing together how the deadly incident ended.
Black BMW shown at the scene of a drive-by shooting. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
"Witnesses report he drove at a high rate of speed and struck another bicyclist. This victim was thrown onto the hood of Rodger’s car and caved in the windshield," read the updated statement. "The suspect’s vehicle then collided with several parked cars and came to a stop. Responding deputies immediately removed Rodger from the car and handcuffed him. They discovered Rodger was dead with an apparent gunshot wound to the head."
The license plate of the crashed vehicle matches the plate of a BMW seen in a photo on Elliot Rodger's Facebook page that shows the student sitting in the driver's seat of the car with sunglasses on.
The shooting, described by the sheriff's office as "a premeditated mass murder," followed a video titled "Elliot Rodger's Retribution." In the clip, Elliot Rodger describes a scenario in which he takes "revenge" by exacting violence on the "streets of Isla Vista."
"This is my last video," Elliot Rodger said in the clip, which appears to be filmed in the front seat of his BMW. "Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against humanity."
A screenshot of a video titled "Elliot Rodger's Retribution" that was uploaded to YouTube (since taken down).
In the video clip, Elliot Rodger then lists a number of perceived injustices related to his college experience. "I'll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you, you'll finally see that I'm, in truth, the superior one, the true alpha male," he said in the clip. "After I've 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."
A YouTube channel page for Elliot Rodger shows numerous videos with titles like "Being lonely on Spring Break sucks" and "Why do girls hate me so much?" along with clips headlined "My morning drive to school" that show the student alone and driving a BMW sedan on Santa Barbara area roads.
"I can't enjoy life in this world anymore," Rodger said in a May 23 YouTube video that was titled "Elliot Rodger, Lonely Vlog, Life is so unfair."
In addition to his work on The Hunger Games, Elliot Rodger's father, Peter, had directed Oh My God, a 2009 documentary that explored theological questions. For the 2012 Lionsgate tentpole, the director had helped create "the propaganda film for the fictional 'Capitol' in the story," according to the filmmaker's website. In the manifesto, Elliot Rodger makes reference to attending The Hunger Games premiere in Los Angeles with his father.
While Rodger had been a student at Santa Barbara City College, he wasn't currently enrolled, the school said on Saturday. He "had registered at SBCC at various times during the last three years but had either stopped attending or withdrew from all courses," the SBCC statement read. "Before that, in 2011, he completed three courses."
Henry T. Yang, the chancellor for the University of California, Santa Barbara, located nearby Isla Vista, issued a Saturday statement mourning the victims of the shooting. "We grieve for the precious lives lost, and we share in the heartbreak of their families, friends, and classmates," Yang wrote.
By late Sunday the sheriff's office had released the names of all six shooting victims: Katherine Breann Cooper, 22; Veronika Elizabeth Weiss, 19; Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20; Cheng Yuan Hong, 20; George Chen, 19; Weihan Wang, 20.
All six victims, the last three of whose names were released late Sunday, were all UCSB students, the sheriff's office said. The final three who were named were found with multiple stab wounds in Rodger's apartment. Hong and Chen were listed on the lease for the apartment as tenants, along with Rodger, the sheriff's office said, indicating they were his roommates. The sheriff's office is still trying to determine whether Wang was also a roommate or was visiting the apartment.
"Our son Christopher Martinez and six others are dead. Our family has a message for every parent out there: you don't think it will happen to your child until it does," said Richard Martinez, the father of a 20-year-old shooting victim, in a press conference aired on CNN.
On Saturday night, thousands of people reportedly attended a candlelight vigil on the UCSB campus.
Hilary Lewis contributed to this report.