The son of an assistant director who worked on "The Hunger Games" franchise of films is believed to be the suspect behind a shooting rampage that took place in Isla Vista, California, Friday evening. Six people were shot and killed during the shooting spree and a seventh individual, believed to be the shooter, was confronted later and exchanged gunfire with police. He was found dead from a bullet wound of undetermined origin.
The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) May 24 that, according to family attorney Alan Shifman, police had been notified a few weeks ago concerning some disturbing videos allegedly posted to YouTube by Elliot Rodger, the son of the lawyer's client, Peter Rodger. A subsequent investigation and interview with the younger Rodger found the 22-year-old having difficulty making friends but having no history with guns.
According to the New York Post, Isla Vista police say the shooting spree, a series of connected drive-by shootings, took place over a ten-minute period. The suspect, who had not been positively identified by authorities following the shooting, was confronted by police officers twice. A foot patrol heard shots fired at approximately 9:27 p.m. (PST) and soon found several shooting victims. Six minutes later, they encountered a lone gunman in a dark car that was involved in a collision with a parked vehicle and exchanged gunfire during two separate occasions. The gunman was later discovered dead from a gunshot wound to the head, although it was not at first clear if the shot had been self-inflicted or from a policeman's firearm.
Santa Barbara County sheriff Bill Brown described the shooting rampage as "the work of a madman."
The small California town is the site of the notorious "Isla Vista Car Massacre," a February 2001 incident where David Attias, son of televsion director Daniel Attias, intentionally drove his 1991 Saab into a crowd of pedestrians, killing four and critically injuring a fifth. The college student was witnessed leaving the vehicle and shouting that he was "the angel of death." He was later convicted of four counts of second-degree murder but would be found legally insane and sentenced to 60 years in a mental institution. However, the sentencing judge found Attias to not be a danger to society in September 2012 and ordered a conditional outpatient-based release.
The shooting spree occurred just hours after a video appeared on YouTube promising a "day of retribution." Although the individual in the video has not been identified as the shooter, he says it is his "last video" and promises "annihilation" to women who have spurned him over the years, leaving him an outcast and a virgin. He says that inability to be accepted, to make friends, and to find a girlfriend was "an injustice that needs to be dealt with.”
Thus far, none of the victims have been identified.
At an early morning press conference, Brown revealed a few more details about the shooting. As noted by KEYT of Santa Barbara, besides the seven individuals killed during the shooting spree, seven more were wounded, one with life-threatening injuries.
Witnesses, he said, saw a black BMW speeding through the streets of Isla Vista, spraying bullets at people as he passed. There were nine separate crime scenes.
The gunman is believed to have acted alone. A semi-automatic handgun was recovered at the scene of the shootout with police.