ISLA VISTA, California (CNN) — Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said that authorities had “three contacts” with Elliot Rodger, the suspect in Friday’s deadly rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara. In one of those, Rodger called the sheriff’s department and accused one of his roommates of stealing candles. The third was a welfare check, initiated by a family member, Brown said. “The deputies cleared the call,” the sheriff said.
— Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown on Saturday confirmed that Elliot Rodger, 22, is the suspect in a deadly rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was a student of Santa Barbara City College who was living in Isla Vista
A mentally disturbed 22-year-old man possibly bent on retribution sprayed bullets from a slow-moving luxury car and plowed over pedestrians in a Southern California college town, killing six people and injuring at least 11, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies said Saturday.
Police have not identified the man who created 10 minutes of deadly chaos Friday night near the University of California, Santa Barbara. But the family of Elliot Rodger think he’s the killer, based on information police provided, family spokesman and attorney Alan Shifman told reporters.
The younger Rodger died from a gunshot wound after his car crashed Friday night in the Isla Vista community, police said. It was unclear whether the fatal head wound was self-inflicted or the result of a firefight with police.
Three of the slain people were thought to be University of California students, state university system President Janet Napolitano said. The system has a campus in Santa Barbara.
Eleven people were injured, she said. Injured people were being treated in a hospital for gunshot wounds or traumatic injuries, including at least one who was in surgery, said sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.
“The sheriff’s office has obtained and is currently analyzing written and video evidence that suggests this was a premeditated mass murder,” Hoover said.
Hoover was referring to a YouTube video titled “Retribution.”
In the nearly seven-minute video made inside a car, a young man who identifies himself as Elliot Rodger rants about women who ignored or rejected him over the past eight years, “since I hit puberty.”
“Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge,” he says on the video. “You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it.”
Elliot Rodger is the son of Peter Rodger, who as the second unit assistant director on the first “The Hunger Games” film, according to a spokeswoman for Lionsgate. Peter Rodger worked on the film less than a week, she said.
Peter Rodger didn’t speak to the media, but Shifman said, “The Rodger’s 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.”
Though police had identified no victims late Saturday, Richard Martinez stepped up to say his son, Chris Martinez, was one of the people killed.
“Why did Chris die?” Richard Martinez said to reporters. “Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights, what about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop?”
A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told CNN that Elliot Rodger passed the background check needed to buy the firearm used in the shooting. The official says nothing has been found in the gun trace to indicate Rodger shouldn’t have qualified to buy a gun.
The shootings occurred Friday night in Isla Vista, near the University of California, Santa Barbara, in a crowded area bustling with activity on Memorial Day weekend.
Napolitano said much of the violence happened near a convenience store but that police are working at least nine different crime scenes.
A life-and-death situation
Kyle Sullivan, 19, a student at Santa Barbara City College, said he came upon three young women — all shot — on a lawn in front of the Alpha Phi sorority in Isla Vista.
One woman appeared to be dead. Another was struggling and “just barely able to move her eyes,” he said. A third, with a kidney wound, was on the phone with her mother, saying she probably wasn’t going to make and “how much she loved her,” Sullivan said.
“I really wasn’t able to sleep at all,” Sullivan told CNN. “It was heartbreaking that something would happen in our community like this.”
The names of those women have not not released. The Alphi Phi sorority posted on its Facebook page Saturday that “all our members are safe.”
Nikolaus Becker, a high school senior visiting Isla Vista, was eating a burger in a restaurant with friends. They heard pops and thought fireworks. Some students were doing homework.
“We were actually joking around about it,” he said of the crackling sound. “People were riding their bikes around outside, and parties were still going on.”
Then Becker and friends heard two more sets of bangs. Police were running. A speeding car — moving at least 50 mph — screeched around a corner. When Becker finally went outside a half hour later, he saw body bags on the street.
Robert Johnson told CNN he didn’t hear screams when the gunman opened fire outside a deli.
“I turned and ran in the opposite direction,” he said. “There’s a lot of confusion. Even shortly after this whole ordeal had ended, I think a lot of people didn’t realize the magnitude of the situation.”
Johnson told CNN he was standing on a corner when he heard what he thought were fireworks. Then a black BMW with tinted windows drove by and either slowed down or stopped outside a deli where as many as eight people were eating outside. Someone in the car opened fire.
“It all happened very quickly, but I think this happened to be the largest group on the street,” he said. “It think it was just targeted because it was the largest group in the area.”
People jumped up and ran, Johnson recalled.
One victim, Nick Pasichuke, told CNN he was struck by the gunman’s car.
“There are six other people currently hospitalized with me right now. … There was a guy driving a BMW. I was on a long board and he aimed his car at our group of friends and gunned it into us. I have two broken legs and need surgery. The police said I flew roughly 50 feet into a busy intersection. This is all so crazy.”
Ian Papa said he was inches away on the street when the gunman’s car sped up and struck two bicyclists.
“It happened so fast,” he said. “I had no time to react. I jumped on the sidewalk and I see a man on a BMW, his body inside the windshield and glass broken everywhere … I almost wanted to break into tears. It was a life and death situation.
Gunman talked to victims
The violence began and ended within minutes, from 9:27 p.m. when shots were reported to around 10 minutes later when police discovered the body of the suspected gunman, CNN affiliate KEYT-TV said. Authorities said there were nine separate crime scenes.
“Sheriff’s deputies responded and found several victims suffering from gunshot wounds. As sheriff’s deputies were attending to the victims and performing first aid, they were also receiving suspect information. Only minutes later, there were additional reports of shots fired in several other areas of Isla Vista,” Hoover said.
U.S. law enforcement officials said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and FBI were assisting local police in the investigation, including trying to trace the handgun used and where the suspect obtained it. Agents were on the scene to offer firearms expertise in tracing all details about the weapon using ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, according to the agency.
KEYT reporter John Palminteri told CNN that some witnesses reported hearing the gunman talk to some of his victims as he fired. Outside a 7-11 convenience store, he said, workers came out amid the gunfire to pull to safety a girl who had been shot in the leg. Another victim, a bicyclist, apparently sustained massive head injuries after being struck by the gunman’s car.
“I heard some pops, but I just assumed they were fireworks,” said Daniel Slovinsky, who was eating at a restaurant. “Contrary to what you might expect, there wasn’t a whole lot of chaos immediately. I didn’t hear any screaming. A few people were running. … It wasn’t really until police started yelling at people to get inside that we realized something big went down. But even then people didn’t know what.”
KEYT reported that “witnesses described seeing a black BMW speeding through the streets, spraying bullets at people and various targets.” Six minutes after the first emergency call, the suspected gunman traded fire with sheriff’s deputies, and the vehicle plowed into a parked vehicle, said Hoover, the sheriff’s office spokeswoman.
In a statement on its website Saturday, UC Santa Barbara said several students were taken to local hospitals after the shooting.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those affected,” the statement said.
‘No words to express the sadness’
Santa Barbara City College also reacted Saturday.
“There are no words to express the sadness we have for the victims and their families and for all the residents of Isla Vista,” the statement said. “We know our students co-mingle with UCSB students and Isla Vista residents as part of our greater community and we all, as an extended family, are impacted by this unimaginable event.”
College President Lori Gaskin added, “In times of tragedy, we need to turn to each other for support, care for each other as we grieve for the victims, and pull together in compassion and strength.”
Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider said in a statement, “My heart goes out to the victims, their families, loved ones and friends. I know the Santa Barbara community joins me in hoping for a quick and full recovery of those victims currently receiving medical care.”
The suspected gunman was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound, Hoover said. A semiautomatic handgun was recovered. It appears he acted alone, Hoover said.
Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown called the suspect “severely mentally disturbed,” according to KEYT.
The identities of the victims won’t be released until the next of kin are notified, she said.