The suspect in the deaths of six people in a mass shooting near the University of California, Santa Barbara, was identified today as a lonely student who promised “retribution” in a video posted hours beforehand.
Elliot Rodger was identified by his father through attorney Alan Schifman. The father, Peter Rodger, was the assistant director for one of the “Hunger Games” films.
The sheriff's department called Rodger a suspect in the killings. The gunman also died in the shooting.
One survivor of the shooting said the gunman appeared to be enjoying the carnage.
"He almost kind of had a smirk like he was excited about it or he was happy about it," said Dylan Fontillas, 20,who was in the I V Mart when the shooter burst in firing. "It's pretty scary. It's pretty disturbing."
Fontillas hit the floor when the shooting began. He grabbed his cell phone and called his mother because he thought he was going to be killed. Rodger, 22, was being treated by multiple therapists and was a student at Santa Barbara City College, said Schifman.
The lawyer said that Rodger’s family was “devastated.”
“They want to send the deepest condolences to all the victims' families involved at this time,” he said.
Seven people - including Elliot Rodger - were killed and another 11 people were injured in the shooting in the Isla Vista neighborhood Friday, said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, who repeatedly referred to the shooting as a planned mass murder.
"It’s just unfortunate that these kinds of circumstances occur," said Brown.
The gunman crashed his car after exchanging gunfire with deputies, said Brown, and was found dead with an apparent gunshot wound to the head.
It's unclear if police shot him or if the wound was self-inflicted. Police also recovered a semiautomatic handgun from the gunman's car, said Brown.
Concerns Over Rodger's Well Being Reported
Schifman said in recent weeks that Rodger’s parents were concerned for their son's well being and reported his disturbing YouTube videos to police, which lead to an investigation. According to Schifman, police interviewed Rodger and found him to be “polite and kind.” He did not specify which law enforcement division conducted the interview.
A social worker also contacted police about Rodger last week, said Schifman.
Brown said a YouTube video titled "Elliot Rodger's Retribution" appeared to be linked to the crime. In the video, a man who identifies himself as Elliot Rodger sits in the driver's seat of a car as he promises "retribution" and discusses his "loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires."
"Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men but never to me," he said in the video. He added that it would be his last video.
Schifman said Rodger was diagnosed as being a high-functioning patient with Asperger syndrome and had trouble making friends.
"There was an incident probably a year and a half ago where he was...he fell from a balcony at a party or was thrown off of it. I think he was probably a victim from my understanding of bullying throughout his life... I'm sure that had played a role in the terrible consequences from last night," the lawyer said.
Witness Call Shooting Chaotic and Surreal
Witnesses described the shooting to ABC affiliate KEYT-TV as chaotic and surreal, with many in the crowd mistaking the gunfire for fireworks. The shooting erupted about 9:27 p.m. Friday and one man said that he saw shots fired from a BMW, fatally hitting one woman and critically injuring another woman.
"I heard shots, scream, pain," Michael Vitak said. "All emotions. I hope she is going to be fine."
Police arrived and were giving first aid to victims when more shooting was heard as the gunman drove through the area, firing from the car and getting out of the vehicle to shoot at least, police said. He twice exchanged gunfire with cops before fleeing down a street and crashing into a parked car. He was found dead with a gunshot to his head.
Sierra Swartz told KEYT-TV that the suspect fired at her and that she initially thought the pistol was an air gun.
“Before I started walking the other way he just lifted it up and … he shot and I felt like I just felt the wind pass right by my face,” she said. “I went to a random person’s house and I just ran inside and I was like ‘Honestly, like someone just shot at me.’”
Bystanders said that crowds of people ran from the area and looked for shelter after the shooting started.
“All of a sudden a bunch of people just started running into the store and we were all like ‘Just take cover, take cover,’” UCSB student Cayla Bergman told KEYT-TV. “It was really scary so all of us just called our parents.”
Mike Hassan, owner of a deli where one person was shot, said the incident was the “last thing” he would have expected in the neighborhood.
“I still [do] not believe it … Even [though] I seen it in front of me,” said Hassan.
The University of California, Santa Barbra, released a statement Saturday morning addressing the shooting.
“Our campus community is shocked and saddened by the events that occurred last night in the nearby community of Isla Vista,” read the statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families who are grieving and mourning as a result of this tragedy.”
The university did not say if any of the victims were involved with the school in any capacity.
The victims' identities were not immediately released. Brown said the injured were being treated for gunshot wounds and traumatic injuries, including at least one person who underwent surgery for life-threatening injuries