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Witness accounts of a drive-by shooting rampage in a college town near UC Santa Barbara portray a path of random violence at about nine locations that sent people running for cover in nearby businesses and residences Friday night.
One witness was waiting on a corner outside a deli in the community of Isla Vista, a Southern California seaside town about 10 miles west of Santa Barbara, when he heard what sounded like a car backfiring. The driver of a new model black BMW then stopped in front of IV Deli Mart.
"I heard somewhere between 12 to 20 shots into a group of people who were eating in front of it," witness Robert Johnson said.
The crowd ran into the building as what the witness described as "consecutive gunfire" continued from the car. The driver continued down the street and opened fire at other locations, killing six people in what the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department called a "mass murder."
The deceased gunman exchanged gunfire with deputies, but authorities could not confirm late Friday whether the fatal gunshot wound was self-inflicted. Details regarding the gunman's identity have not been released by the sheriff's department. A semi-automatic handgun was recovered in the vehicle, according to the sheriff's department.
Witnesses who spoke with NBC4 identified the gunman as Elliot Rodger. Sheriff's department personnel are investigating a video in which a man who identifies himself as Rodger details plans for "retribution" and "revenge against humanity" prior to the shooting.
Jimmy Chang, a reporter for the UCSB newspaper and senior at the school, said he spoke with a female student who said the gunman opened fire on her as she was walking on an Isla Vista street.
"He actually drove across street to meet her," Chang said, repeating the witness' account. "The guy stuck his head out and says, 'Hey, what are you doing,' She ignored him, thinking he was just the 'typical, Isla Vista douche bag.' The guy pulled out a gun and shot at her. The bullet missed her head. She said she thought it was a BB gun, and she just kept walking faster."
The witness told Chang the man shot and missed again before she ran into a house for shelter. The woman said she did not know the gunman, Chang said.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department officials said they have "obtained and are currently analyzing both written and video" evidence. The evidence suggests "this atrocity was a pre-meditated mass murder," said Sheriff Bill Brown.
Seven people remained hospitalized Saturday morning. Details regarding their conditions were not immediately available.
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