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Ear to the Ground

Shooting Tragedy in Santa Barbara Leaves 7 Dead

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Posted on May 24, 2014

    The black BMW sedan driven by the suspect is seen on Saturday in Isla Vista, Calif. AP/Jae C. Hong

Update: In an article published on May 25, The L.A. Times reported that Rodger family friend Simon Astaire said Eliot Rodger, the prime suspect in the shooting, was not diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, but that the family suspected he was on the spectrum. The claim contradicts an earlier statement made by the family’s lawyer.

A 22-year-old man with apparent social difficulties is suspected of killing six people and injuring seven late Friday near the University of California campus in Santa Barbara. The suspected gunman was found dead inside his vehicle from a gunshot wound that may have been self-inflicted or the result of an exchange with sheriff’s deputies.

Officers would not confirm the identity of the suspect, who fired into crowds and got into two gun battles with deputies across the beachside community of Isla Vista before crashing his black BMW into a parked car. They said they were investigating a video posted on YouTube that appears to be connected to the tragedy.

The video, titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution,” has been posted and referenced on news sites across the Web. It has since been taken down from YouTube. Lasting six minutes, it shows a man in his early 20s saying he is a virgin and complaining in dramatic, highly idiosyncratic speech, that women have rejected him.

“I will have my revenge against humanity,” he tells the camera. He laughs and promises to “slaughter … spoiled, stuck-up blond slut[s]” for the “crime” of giving “their affection and sex and love to other men, but never to me.”

“I will punish all of you for it,” he says. A transcript of the video provided by Salon is available here.

Rodger’s Facebook page contains numerous glamour portraits, apparently taken by himself.

A BBC report indicates the young man may be the son of Hollywood filmmaker Peter Rodger, who served as assistant director on the movie “The Hunger Games.” The Roger family lawyer said Elliot Rodger was receiving psychiatric care and was diagnosed as a child with “highly functional Asperger’s syndrome.” The condition is consistent with the feelings of social isolation expressed in several other YouTube videos associated with the account. Some of them bear titles such as “Life is so unfair because girls don’t want me,” “My reaction to seeing a young couple at the beach, Envy” and “Why do girls hate me so much?”

According to The Guardian, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown described the event as “a premeditated mass murder.” He said the gunman was “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.”

The county sheriff’s office said: “This is a very active and complex investigation involving approximately nine different crime scenes. We are in the process of interviewing a large number of witnesses and ask for the public’s assistance in locating others.”

Isla Vista is a small community next to UC Santa Barbara’s campus, home to 23,000 people. The area has a reputation for excessive partying and has sometimes seen violent conflicts between young revelers and police.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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