California Shooter's Family Tried to Prevent Rampage
The parents of Eliot Oliver Robertson Rodger, the 22-year-old man who went on a killing rampage in Santa Barbara, California, last week, said they tried the prevent their son's killing spree but were too late.
Roger's mother, Chin Rodger, told the Los Angeles Times that his therapist called her shortly before the shootings on Friday. The therapist was concerned about a ranting email sent by Rodger.
Then his mother found his video vowing to kill people. She alerted authorities and set off with her ex-husband, Peter Rodger, for Isla Vista, California. When they arrived, however, Eliot Rodger's rampage was over. They would later learn that their son had killed six people, including himself, and wounded 13 others.
Sheriff's deputies had visited Rodger last month after his parents called authorities. They were concerned about online videos talking about suicide and killing.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday that his deputies did not perceive a threat.
"At the time deputies interacted with him, he was able to convince them that he was okay," Brown said. The deputies also did not know about the online videos.
Experts say the case highlights the challenges that police face in assessing mental health, especially for those with no history of violent breakdowns or serious crimes. Doris Fuller, executive director of the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, says California law permits emergency psychiatric evaluations of people who pose a serious threat but that was never triggered in Rodger's case.
In a video apparently made the day before the shootings, Rodger talks about revenge against those who shunned him and describes a life of loneliness and rejection. Some friends say they tried to help him. Andi Chan explained, "he was really, really upset about 'why is the world so unfair' to him."
Another friend said, "I tried reaching out to him every chance I got but he was so closed off there was nothing I could do."
Authorities believe that Rodger's rampage started in his apartment, where he stabbed and killed three men. He then drove around near the University of California at Santa Barbara campus and fired shots at young woman at a sorority house and later at people at a deli store.
Investigators say he hurt or killed people in 10 different places Friday night.
Witness Sierra Swartz says she was 10 feet from his car when he fired at her multiple times, miraculously missing.
"He looked directly at me," she said, "and somehow, even though I hadn't even run yet, he didn't hit me."
In the end, Rodger shot and killed himself inside the black BMW he used to carry out the attacks.
UC Santa Barbara students held a vigil on Saturday to pay tribute to Rodger's victims. The community is planning an interfaith vigil on Tuesday.