The gunman who killed six people Friday near the University of California, Santa Barbara, was armed with three semiautomatic handguns and had another 41 loaded 10-round magazines when he was found dead in his car, officials said Saturday evening.
Investigators said the suspect, identified by a family attorney as 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, acted alone as he stalked the streets surrounding the picturesque beachside campus. He was killed following a shootout with police, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
Officials said Saturday that Rodger carried three 9mm semiautomatic handguns — two SIG Sauer P226 pistols and one Glock 34 Longslide pistol — during the gruesome rampage across 10 locations in Isla Vista, the bustling community adjacent to Santa Barbara. Rodger is the son of Peter Rodger, an assistant director on the blockbuster movie “The Hunger Games.”
At a Saturday evening news conference, Sheriff Bill Brown laid out investigators’ preliminary chronology of events.
Brown said the suspect murdered three people in his residence prior to the shooting rampage, adding that “the three male victims appear to have been repeatedly stabbed.”
The suspect then moved on to the Alpha Phi sorority at UCSB. Several members reported hearing loud, aggressive knocking at the front door, but no one opened it. Witnesses saw three young women being shot outside from across the streets. Two UCSB students — 22-year-old Katherine Breann Cooper and 19-year-old Veronica Elizabeth Weiss — were killed, Brown said. A third survived.
The shooter next drove up to a nearby convenience store, the IV Deli Market, in a black BMW, where he sprayed bullets at the crowd. He shot and killed Christopher Ross Michael-Martinez, 20, an English major at UCSB who intended to go to law school after graduation.
He then fired multiple rounds at two people on a sidewalk, before proceeding south and east to Del Playa, a street overlooking the ocean. That’s where he brandished a handgun at a female victim, fired additional rounds, and then drove west. He fired at a deputy on foot, who returned fire.
The suspect, heading west on Del Playa, struck and injured a bicyclist before continuing on to an intersection, where he fired multiple shots at pedestrians. Three were struck by bullets. He then sped east to another intersection, where he shot yet another pedestrian.
He then headed east to Acorn Park, where he accelerated past four deputies running across the park, and opened fire. Three of the deputies returned fire, striking the vehicle “and, we believe, shooting the suspect in his left hip area,” Brown said.
The suspect then drove back to Del Playa, where he accelerated and struck another bicyclist, who was thrown onto the hood of the car, caving in the windshield. The suspect’s BMW struck several parked cars. Deputies then removed the suspect from the car and handcuffed him. He was “obviously dead with an apparent gunshot wound to the head,” Brown said.
Family attorney Alan Shifman told NBC News that Rodger’s family has yet to officially identify the body but that they're cooperating with police. "My client's mission in life will be to try to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again," Shifman added.
Sheriff's personnel are vetting a YouTube video that "suggests this atrocity was premeditated mass murder," the sheriff said.
Shifman said it was Rodger's own parents who alerted authorities to the distressing videos their son posted to YouTube — videos in which Rodger, a student at nearby Santa Barbara City College, complains that his college years have been torture because he could never get a date.
In the chilling videos, nine of which were posted shortly before the rampage, he vows "retribution" and "revenge against humanity" — specifically against the residents of a sorority house, all of whom he threatens to kill.
"I'm 22 years old, and I'm still a virgin. I've never even kissed a girl," Rodger says. "College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. But in those years, I've had to rot in loneliness. It's not fair.
"If I can't have you girls, I will destroy you," he says, sometimes laughing at his own audacity. Afterward, he promises, "I will take to the streets of Isla Vista and slay every single person I see there."
"You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one — the true alpha male," he boasts.
At a news conference late Saturday afternoon, Brown said: "It's very apparent the severe extent of how disturbed Mr. Rodger was.”
Deputies discovered three semi-automatic handguns with 400 unspent rounds in Rodger’s black BMW. All were purchased legally and Rodger had the proper permits for them, Brown said.
Sossy Dombourian, Elisha Fieldstadt and Zoya Taylor of NBC News contributed to this report.
First published May 24 2014, 6:09 PM