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The parents of Santa Barbara shooting suspect Elliot Rodger were frantically trying to find him as the 22-year-old was carrying out his deadly rampage Friday night that left six people dead and 13 injured.
Elliot’s mother, Chin, and father, Peter, a second-unit director on The Hunger Games, saw his 140-page manifesto shortly before the shootings began and headed to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles, family friend Simon Astaire told a number of media outlets, including CNN, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the Associated Press.
Elliot emailed the manifesto to a couple dozen people, including his parents and one of his therapists, Astaire told CNN. Elliot’s therapist called Chin at 9:17 p.m. Friday night, roughly 10 minutes before the shootings started, and asked if she’d seen her son’s email, Astaire said, according to various outlets.
Chin opened the email, saw the first few lines of Elliot’s manifesto and knew something was wrong, Astaire told the LA Times.
Chin then went to her son’s YouTube page, where she saw his “Retribution” video, detailing his murderous plans. She also called her ex-husband, Peter, who was at dinner with his wife and two friends, Astaire told media outlets. The two parents headed to Santa Barbara in separate cars, with Chin calling 911 on the way, learning of the shooting en route. By the time they arrived, Elliot was dead, presumably of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, along with six other people.
“They’re in deep, deep grief,” Astaire told the AP. “Their grief, which is nearly unbearable to be close to, is as much for the loss of their son as for the victims.”
In April, Chin had asked the police to check on her son, but the authorities left after he assured them he was fine.
Although Astaire described Elliot to CNN as “reserved to a daunting degree,” the shooting suspect didn’t seem to have violent tendencies and wasn’t growing increasingly distant leading up to the events on Friday night.
Peter said a week ago that Elliot seemed to be doing well “at the moment” and spoke to his son on Thursday, when Elliot said he was looking forward to seeing his family over the weekend, Astaire recounted.
Meanwhile, the University of California at Santa Barbara has canceled Tuesday classes in the wake of the tragedy that left six of its students dead. The school’s chancellor announced Sunday night that the school would be declaring Tuesday “a day of Mourning and Reflection” with a memorial service scheduled for 4 p.m. that day.
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