Seven Dead in 'Premeditated Mass Murder' Shooting Near California College Campus
Seven people have been killed in a shooting near a college campus in California, in what authorities described as “premeditated mass murder”. Seven more people were injured, one with injuries police said were life-threatening and required surgery.
The gunman, who police said was one of the people killed, attacked at approximately 9.27pm on Friday night, driving a black BMW near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus in the Isla Vista neighbourhood. The identities of the victims were not immediately released.
Alan Shifman, an attorney for a Hollywood director, Peter Rodger, said on Saturday the family believed his son, Elliot, was responsible for the shooting. Shifman told the Associated Press the family had not yet seen his body, but they had been told he was killed and believed he killed six people.
Shifman said: "The Rodger family offers their deepest compassion and sympathy to the families involved in this terrible tragedy. We are experiencing the most inconceivable pain, and our hearts go out to everybody involved.”
Earlier the Santa Barbara county sheriff, Bill Brown, who said the name of the suspected gunman would not be released, pending notification of relatives, confirmed that police were investigating a video posted on YouTube. He said: "It would appear that [it] is connected.”
The video, entitled Elliot Rodger's Retribution and published on Friday, showed a young man who said he was a 22-year-old virgin, complaining that women had rejected him.
"I will have my revenge against humanity," he said, vowing to kill students and Isla Vista residents. "I will punish all of you for it."
The account that posted the video contained 20 clips, including the titles “Why do girls hate me so much?”,“Life is so unfair because girls don't want me” and “My reaction to seeing a young couple at the beach, Envy”.
Shifman said the Rodgers family called police several weeks ago after being alarmed by YouTube videos "regarding suicide and the killing of people". Police interviewed Elliot Rodger and found him to be a "perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human", Shifman said.
Shifman added that police did not find a history of guns, but did say Rodger "didn't have a lot of friends".
Earlier, Brown described the gunman as “severely mentally disturbed”, called the incident “the work of a madman” and added that “a lot more information will come out that will give a clearer picture of just how disturbed this individual was".
Brown said police believed the suspected gunman acted alone, and that about 10 minutes elapsed between the first 911 calls and the suspected gunman being found dead in his car.
On Saturday morning, the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) released a statement. It said: “We have been notified that several of our students were taken to local hospitals last night … Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those affected.”
The university said it was making counselling services available and had set up emergency housing.
The county sheriff’s office said it was investigating “approximately nine different crime scenes”.
Witnesses interviewed by local television stations reported seeing the car speeding through the streets as the gunman fired from it. Brown confirmed that the gunman exchanged fire with sheriff’s deputies in two separate gunfights, before crashing into a parked car.
The suspect was found dead of a gunshot wound in the car, from which authorities recovered a semiautomatic handgun. Brown said he did not know if the suspect had been shot by deputies, or if he had killed himself.
One student told KEYT-TV he saw shots fired from the car, fatally striking one woman and critically injuring another. "I heard shots, scream, pain," Michael Vitak said.
Another, 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 did not provide her full name, said thought he was carrying an airsoft gun and kept walking. She said seconds later, she felt something buzz by her head and quickly realised they were bullets.
Robert Johnson, a 21-year-old UCSB student, said the car drove past him and that he heard "popping noises" that he mistook for firecrackers or a car backfiring.
"Then the sound came again, and by that point it had pulled up in front of a convenience store deli, and someone in the car was firing into a crowd of about eight, 10 people that were gathered in front of the store," he said.
"Everyone that was being fired upon, they all jumped and scrambled to run inside the store.”
The car had darkly tinted windows and the occupant was not visible, Johnson said.
The county sheriff's statement said: “The shootings began at approximately 9.27pm on 23 May when reports of shots fired in the Isla Vista area were called in to the Santa Barbara county emergency communications centre. Sheriff’s deputies responded and found several victims suffering from gunshot wounds.
“At approximately 9.33pm, six minutes after the initial call was received, the suspect engaged a group of responding deputies with gunfire. The deputies returned fire and the suspect fled in his vehicle.
“Seconds later the suspect was again spotted by another deputy and another exchange of gunfire occurred. The suspect fled down Del Playa Drive and eventually crashed into a parked vehicle.”
Isla Vista, a small community next to UC Santa Barbara's campus, is home to 23,000 people. The area has a reputation for excessive partying.
AlterNet Editor's Note: Below is Elliot Rodger's video — The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as being potentially offensive or graphic. Viewer discretion is advised: