SANTA BARBARA, California - A 22-year-old gunman killed six people before taking his own life in a rampage that began in his apartment and cascaded across a California college town, shortly after he posted a threatening video railing against women, police said on Saturday.
Elliot Rodger, the son of a Hollywood director, stabbed three people to death in his apartment on Friday night before gunning down three more victims in the town of Isla Vista near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
A killing spree, in which Rodger opened fire on bystanders as he terrorised Isla Vista in his car and on foot, ended when he took his life after a shootout with sheriff's deputies, police said. Authorities found three guns that Rodger had legally purchased and more than 400 rounds of unspent ammunition in his car.
In a threatening YouTube video, a young man presumed by police to be Rodger bitterly complains of loneliness and rejection by women and lays out plans to kill those he believes spurned him. "It's obviously the work of a madman," Sheriff Bill Brown told a news conference about the rampage, adding it was "very, very apparent he was severely mentally disturbed." Witnesses reported seeing someone driving a black BMW through the streets and shooting at people in the beachside community where many college students live. At least 13 people were wounded, including eight who were shot.
Brown said his department had three times been in contact with Rodger prior to the killings, including once after a family member asked them to check on his welfare last month. Deputies interviewed Rodger but found him to be polite and courteous and took no further action, Brown said.
Rodger had previously gone to authorities earlier in the year to report a roommate had stolen some candles, and last year reported he was the victim of an assault. Authorities said they later suspected he may have been the aggressor. "We offer our deepest, compassionate sympathy to the families involved in this terrible tragedy," lawyer Alan Shifman told reporters outside the family home in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, reading from a prepared statement on behalf of the family. "We are experiencing the most inconceivable pain and our hearts go out to everyone involved," he added. Rodger is the son of Peter Rodger, an assistant director on the 2012 film "The Hunger Games."
The YouTube video police were studying shows a young man who identified himself as Elliot Rodger pouring out his hatred of women who have rejected him and "popular kids," and threatening to kill people out of loneliness and sexual frustration. "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. It's an injustice, a crime," he said in the video, his speech punctuated by bursts of laughter.
The video appeared to have been uploaded to YouTube on Friday night, shortly before the shooting. "It would appear that is connected," Brown said.
YouTube has since removed the clip, saying videos threatening violence are against its guidelines and are removed when flagged.