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Calif. gunman kept his threat hidden, sheriff says

The gunman involved in a killing rampage in Southern California on Friday night was able to convince sheriff's deputies who visited him in April that he was not a threat to himself or to others, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Sunday.

The gunman, identified as Elliot O. Rodger, 22, did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold when deputies visited him as part of a welfare check April 30, Brown said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union. The deputies were acting on the complaints of Rodger's mother, who was alarmed by videos he had posted online.

"They found him to be apparently shy, timid, polite, well-spoken," Brown said. "He explained to the deputies that this was a misunderstanding," and that while he was having some social problems they were unlikely to continue.

"He was able to convince them that he was not at that point a danger to himself or anyone else," the sheriff said.

In a manifesto, which he called "My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger," Rodger said of the visit by officers: "The police interrogated me outside for a few minutes, asking me if I had suicidal thoughts. I tactfully told them that it was all a misunderstanding, and they finally left."

The police said Rodger, a college student who posted videos about his anger against women for rejecting him, killed six people and wounded 13 others in the small town of Isla Vista, Calif. He stabbed three men to death in his apartment and shot and killed three students as he drove to several locations in the town.

Rodger's parents were frantically rushing to find him Friday night after his mother opened an email that contained the manifesto and also received an alarmed call from Rodger's therapist, according to a man who described himself as a longtime family friend.

The family friend, Simon Astaire, said that the mother read the first four lines of the manifesto and went to her son's YouTube page, where she found the video pledging retributions. Astaire said she called her ex-husband — who was at dinner with his wife and two friends in Los Angeles — and then 911. He said the two parents both began racing north to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles, in separate cars, arriving there to learn of the shooting.

Rodger was found dead with a bullet wound to his head. Police said he apparently killed himself.

Brown said on the CBS's Face the Nation that the deputies who had visited Rodger in response to concerns raised by his family were not the only professionals who had not understood the extent of the man's problems.

"When you read his autobiography and manifesto that he wrote, it's very apparent that he was able to convince many people for many years that he didn't have this deep, underlying obvious mental illness that also manifested itself in this terrible tragedy," Brown said.

Calif. gunman kept his threat hidden, sheriff says 05/25/14 [Last modified: Sunday, May 25, 2014 11:12pm]
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