Lawyer: Family warned cops before Calif. rampage

Lawyer: Family warned cops before Calif. rampage

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Police keep onlookers away from the scene where a car allegedly driven by a gunman crashed, on May 24, 2014 in Isla Vista, California, a beach community next to the University of California Santa Barbara. Seven people, including the gunman, were killed and seven others wounded in the May 23 mass shooting, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Saturday. Brown said at a pre-dawn press conference that the shooting in the town of Isla Vista "appears to be a mass murder situation." Driving a black BMW, the suspect opened fire on pedestrians from his vehicle at several locations in the town. Police received their first emergency calls about the shooting around 9:30 pm Friday (0430 GMT Saturday). AFP PHOTO/ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)


by Oren Dorell and William M. Welch, USA TODAY

Posted on May 24, 2014 at 2:21 PM

ISLA VISTA, Calif. — A Hollywood director and his family say they warned police about disturbing videos weeks before a shooting rampage that they believe their son committed near a Santa Barbara university. Seven people died, including the attacker.

MORE: 7 dead in drive-by shooting near UC Santa Barbara

Alan Shifman, attorney for Peter Rodger, assistant director of The Hunger Games series, said the family was told their son is dead after killing six people late Friday night. The family had not yet seen his body.

Shifman said family members called authorities several weeks ago after being alarmed by YouTube videos "regarding suicide and the killing of people."

Police interviewed Elliot Rodger and found him to be a "perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human," Shifman said. Authorities did not find a history of guns, but did say the 22-year-old had trouble making friends, he added. Authorities had not yet confirmed the identity of the shooter.

A YouTube video posted Friday in which a young man complains of rejection by women appears to be connected to the attack, said Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown, who called the attack "the work of a madman."

"We're analyzing both written and videotaped evidence that suggests that this atrocity was a premeditated mass murder," Brown said Saturday morning.

Investigators say they believe a gunman driving a black BMW acted alone in the shootings near the University of California-Santa Barbara. Brown said the suspect exchanged gunfire twice with deputies, and then drove off and crashed into a parked car.

Deputies found the suspect inside the BMW dead from a gunshot wound to the head, but Brown said he did not know whether the suspect was shot and killed by deputies or if the wound was self-inflicted. A semiautomatic handgun was recovered.

On Saturday, many of the streets of downtown Isla Vista, the community next to the university, remained blocked off and ringed with crime scene tape. Workmen were removing and replacing a large glass storefront window as Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies blocked the street and sidewalk.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. R.J. Regan said investigators were still processing the crime scenes but that the suspect's crashed car had been removed.

"There are eight separate locations,'' Regan said, referring to spots where the shooter is believed to have fired.

College students stood outside their apartments and on street corners watching police investigators and spectators. Overhead, a helicopter circled.

"I was walking home when it started,'' said Jared Jensen, a sophomore. "We thought it was fireworks, at first in the distance somewhere. ... But we were only a block or two away.''

The separate shooting scenes resulted in mass confusion, he said. Friends called friends to report activity at one location, only to learn of shootings at others, Jensen and others said.

"We had no idea what was going on at the time,'' Jensen, from the San Francisco area, said.

"This is way beyond what we were expecting,'' said Matt Meyer, a sophomore from the Los Angeles area. "It was clearly the result of a mentally ill person."

John Sherman, a second-year student from San Diego, said he was able to see the crashed car just a short distance from his apartment.

"We didn't know what was going on,'' he said. "Everyone said it was happening at a different place.''

In the YouTube video, titled "Elliot Rodger's retribution," a young man sitting behind the wheel of a car with tinted windows parked in front of palm trees talks of "loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires" and blames women for throwing themselves at "obnoxious brutes" but rejecting him, "the supreme gentleman."

"For the last eight years of my life, since I hit puberty, I've been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires, all because girls have never been attracted to me," Rodger says in the video. "Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men, never to me."

Rodger is a Santa Barbara City College Student and Isla Vista resident, according to his Facebook page and a Web diary titled "Elliot Rodger's Official Blog."

Most of the Facebook posts from the past year on a page bearing his name show photos of the same young man in the video, including a photo of him behind the wheel of a late-model black BMW coupe, and a few sunsets. Many of the blog posts carry a similar theme of loneliness and unrequited desire as the video.

The license plate on the BMW in one of Rodger's Facebook photos matches the tag on a car photographed by the Independent at the crime scene with a body lying near it.

Another Facebook photo shows Rodger sitting on a bench next to Peter Rodger, who's married to actress Soumaya Akaaboune. Akaaboune had roles in the movie The Green Zone and in Les Vraies Housewives, a French version of the TV reality show Real Housewives shot in Los Angeles.

Isla Vista is a residential area filled mostly with apartments and small homes rented to students. It was the scene of a small riot in the spring during an all-day street party near the beach and campus.

Dorell reported from McLean, Va. Contributing: Jon Swartz in San Francisco; The Associated Press.