A lone gunman killed six people and injured seven more during a shooting rampage Friday night in Isla Vista that Sheriff Bill Brown called “the work of a madman.” The suspect was killed after firing on responding deputies, but it’s not clear if the fatal wound to his head was self-inflicted or the result of return fire.
The seven injured victims are being treated at Santa Barbara Cottage hospital — some for gunshot wounds, others for trauma sustained when the suspect crashed his car as he was pursued — and one recently underwent surgery for life-threatening injuries.
Initial reports suggested that two suspects were involved in the shooting, but Brown said during a 2:30 a.m. press conference Saturday morning that the gunman acted alone. Brown said the man was armed with a semi-automatic handgun and that investigators are working to determine if other weapons were involved.
The names of the victims and the suspect have not been released. Brown, however, confirmed that written and video material left by 22-year-old Elliot Rodger of Calabasas in the hours and days leading up to the shooting is being reviewed as evidence in the massacre. “It appears to be connected,” he said.
In a YouTube video titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution” and posted the day before the shooting, Rodger — a Santa Barbara City College Student and Isla Vista resident, according to his social media accounts — laments his life of “loneliness, rejection, and unfulfilled desires.” He blames women for throwing themselves at “obnoxious brutes” but rejecting him, “the supreme gentlemen.”
In graphic and unsettling detail, he describes how he plans to launch an assault on the streets of Isla Vista the next day and become a God who “exacts my retribution on all those who deserve it.” (The video appears below. Please be advised: it is extremely disturbing.) Photographs taken by The Santa Barbara Independent of the suspect’s crashed vehicle on Del Playa Drive show a license plate number that matches the one on the car featured on Rodger’s Facebook page.
At the press conference, Sheriff Brown said dispatchers received calls at 9:27 p.m. of multiple shots fired near the UCSB college town’s central loop. Deputies on foot also heard the gunfire, Brown said, and responded to the area. They immediately came across several victims and started performing first aid as they received description reports of the suspect and his car.
Soon after, several more shots were fired, and at 9:33 p.m. the suspect engaged deputies in a brief but violent firefight. Brown explained there were nine separate crime scenes in the incident, which lasted only around 10 minutes but covered much of downtown Isla Vista. Dozens of rounds were fired, he said. No deputies were injured.
Seconds after the first confrontation, another exchange of gunfire took place, Brown said. The suspect fled in his car down Del Playa Drive and crashed into a parked vehicle. A mangled bike was visible at the scene. When deputies approached the vehicle, they discovered the suspect dead with gunshot wound to his head. The handgun was found in the car, Brown said.
Brown commended the deputies “who engaged very resolutely with the suspect” shortly after they were notified of the initial shootings, and said their actions likely prevented further death or injury during what he termed the “mass murder.” He said his heart goes out to the families of the victims, and he encouraged anyone with information on the suspect or the shootings to contact authorities.
When asked by reporters about the repeated violence that has plagued Isla Vista in recent months and years, and what can be done to stop it, Brown said that while the incident was “obviously a heartbreaking situation in a community that is adjacent to a world class university,” the shooting was “obviously the work of a mad man. … It’s unfortunate this kind of things occurs,” he said, but there are very limited ways to prevent it.
In the days and weeks to come, Brown went on, a clearer picture will soon emerge of “how disturbed this individual was.” While Isla Vista is a unique environment with unique law enforcement challenges, Brown said, “this kind of incident could have occurred anywhere.”
Brown explained that the investigation is still in its early stages, and that more information will soon be released. Brown’s office is being assisted in its investigation by the UCSB Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Santa Barbara Police Department, investigators from the District Attorney’s Office, officials from California State Parks, and criminalists from the Department of Justice crime lab.
The Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in locating other witnesses to interview. Anyone who witnessed the events is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 805-681-4171.
Congressmember Lois Capps issued the following statement at approximately 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. “My heart is broken over the shooting in Isla Vista last night and the lives it claimed. Our community is grieving and many people are hurting from this senseless tragedy. Isla Vista is a special place, and an important part of our Central Coast community. We all join you in mourning and our prayers are with you.
“We’ve endured too many tragedies as a nation over the past few years,” Capps continued. “But now is a time for us to pray and to come together as a community. May God bless the memory of these victims, give strength to those who were injured, and support all who are touched by this unconscionable act.”
According to the latest unconfirmed reports, three people were killed and seven injured in a series of Isla Vista shootings that occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Friday night. One of the suspects was also reportedly killed, and another is in custody. Multiple locations are being treated as crime scenes, most around the UCSB college town’s central loop.
The incident occurred at the I.V. Deli Mart, the 7-11 near the bottom of the loop, and on streets nearby, including the 6500 block of Del Playa, where one body lay beneath a tarp near a black BMW that was crashed near the curb with a broken windshield. This matched the description of the car that, according to multiple witnesses, carried the shooter. Other reports suggest that a bicyclist and other pedestrians may have been run over as well.
One of the incidents occurred on Embarcadero del Norte between Cordoba and Segovia roads, where a Santa Barbara City College student named Thomas said he heard as many as 20 gunshots.
A second crime scene was inside the Isla Vista Deli Mart, at 6553 Pardall Road, where the old Isla Vista Bookstore used to be. According to the deli’s owner, one of his customers, which he believed to be a male, was hit by bullets shot from a car outside the market and died on scene.
“This seems to be ground zero,” said The Santa Barbara Independent’s news editor Tyler Hayden, who was on scene, though he reported the response on the streets was mixed. “Some people are curious what the hell is going on, and others are cruising around with 18-packs.”
The Sheriff’s Office spokesperson would only confirm that there are multiple scenes and multiple victims and that the situation is fluid.
The third crime scene visited by Hayden was the 7-11 in the new Isla Vista Icon development. Two men in handcuffs were being questioned there in full view of a small crowd. That crowd cheered when one of them was put inside the law enforcement vehicle around 11:25 p.m. Officials said the men had refused orders to stay out of the crime scene areas.
Anecdotal yet unconfirmed reports from the Isla Vista streets suggest that the vehicle involved was a black BMW with a passenger shooting a handgun.
There appears to be another body under a tarp near 6583 Del Playa Drive, according to Hayden. Nearby is a black BMW, matching the description of the vehicle witnesses say was involved in the shooting spree, and its front windshield is smashed in.
UCSB’s college town was most recently in the headlines for a riot that occurred during the annual Deltopia party back in early April, but Isla Vista also made tragic international news more than a decade ago, when the self-proclaimed “Angel of Death,” a disturbed student named David Attias, drove his car through a crowd of people on Sabado Tarde Road, killing four.