The man responsible for seven deaths and at least as many injuries in Santa Barbara on Friday is 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, the son of “Hunger Games” assistant director Peter Rodger, an attorney for the family confirmed Saturday.
Lawyer Alan Shifman told reporters gathered outside the Rodger family home that the family had called police a month ago expressing concern over Elliot’s YouTube videos and their messages “regarding suicide and the killing of people.” The attorney said that police had interviewed Elliot Rodger and determined he did not pose a danger, finding him a “perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human.”
“We offer our deepest compassion and sympathy to the families involved in this terrible tragedy,” Shifman said in a statement on behalf of the Rodger family. “We are experiencing the most inconceivable pain, and our hearts go out to everyone involved.”
Although the Sheriff’s Department has yet to confirm Elliot as the shooter, Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown said, “We have obtained and are analyzing written and videotaped evidence that suggests that this atrocity was a premeditated mass murder.”
Elliot’s license plate number also matched that of the car from the crime scene.
The shootings began at 9:27 p.m. on Friday night in Isla Vista, an area near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara. After a couple rounds of shooting from his black BMW, police exchanged fire with the shooter before he crashed into a parked vehicle. Police discovered the shooter dead and a semiautomatic handgun in the car.
A witness told ABC7 affiliate KEYT-TV that she was approached by the driver of a black BMW who flashed a handgun and asked “Hey, what’s up?” Sienna Schwartz said she thought he was carrying an air soft gun and kept walking. She said seconds later, she felt something buzz by her head and quickly realized they were bullets.
“He lifted up a little black pistol, and I just thought it was like an air soft gun or something,” she said. “I turned around and started walking the other way. He shot and I just felt the wind pass right by my face.” The area, located next to UC Santa Barbara’s campus, has a reputation for partying and is filled with restaurants, cafes and bars.
The rampage left six people dead in addition to the gunman, in a grim path that Rodger drove slowly as he fired his gun on Friday night. Seven others were injured, including with life-threatening wounds.
Elliot posted a video hours before the shootings titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution” in which he threatens violence for being rejected by others. He was a student at Santa Barbara City College.
In another video, he said, “Girls are not sexually attracted to me. That’s a major problem… I will not let this fly. It’s an injustice that needs to be dealt with.”