The 22-year-old son of a Hollywood film director who shot and killed six people in California said the attack was a “day of retribution” for being rejected by women though his teens and early adulthood.
Elliot Rodger, whose father was the second unit director on The Hunger Games, reportedly sped through the streets Isla Vista, Santa Barbara in a black BMW, spraying bullets at pedestrians at multiple locations in the small oceanfront town.
Police later confirmed that Rodger had stabbed three men to death prior to leaving his apartment to embark on the drive-by shooting spree, during which he killed another three.
Rodger exchanged gunfire with police twice from his car, and fled both times. He then crashed into a parked vehicle.
When police approached him they “determined that the suspect … was dead of an apparent gunshot wound to the head,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.
Sheriff Brown said authorities previously had “three contacts” with Rodger, including one in which he accused a flatmate of stealing candles.
The massacre triggered an outpouring of grief in the small community. Students gathered for a candlelight vigil on the University of California Santa Barbara campus to remember those killed during the rampage.
Victim’s family slams gun laws
Richard Martinez, the father of one of the victims, Christopher Martin-Martinez, has called for stricter gun control in the wake of the shootings.
“Our son Christopher and six others are dead. Our family has a message for every parent out there: you don’t think it will happen to your child until it does,” he said.
“Chris was a really great kid, ask anyone who knew him. His death has left our family lost and broken.
“Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA [National Rifle Association].
“They talk about gun rights – what about Chris’s right to live?
“When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say stop this madness, we don’t have to live like this?”
Sheriff Brown said Rodger was armed with three handguns, which had been legally purchased, and 41 loaded magazines.
He shot dead Christopher, 20, who was a UCSB student, at a nearby delicatessen. He then got into his car and drove around the area, shooting at a number of pedestrians and hitting two cyclists, police said.
Plans outlined in video
In a video uploaded to YouTube, Rodger said he wanted to “punish” women for rejecting him.
“This is my last video, it all has to come to this,” Rodger said in the video.
“Tomorrow is the day of retribution. The day on which I will have my revenge against humanity.
“I am 22 years old and I’m still a virgin. I’ve never even kissed a girl.
“I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime.
“I will take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you, you will finally see that I am the truthful superior one – the true alpha male.”
In his own words
In a 140-page manifesto, My Twisted World – The Story of Elliot Rodger, which has been published online, he outlined his plans for the attack.
“My orchestration of the day of retribution is my attempt to do everything in my power to destroy everything I cannot have,” the manifesto said.
“All of those beautiful girls I’ve desired so much in my life but can never have because they despise and loathe me, I will destroy.
“All of those popular people who live hedonistic lives of pleasure, I will destroy, because they never accepted me as one of them.
“I will kill them all and make them suffer, just as they have made me suffer. It is only fair.”
A lawyer representing the Rodger family said police were called weeks ago after Elliot posted alarming YouTube videos about murder and suicide.
“We offer our deepest, compassionate sympathy to the families involved in this terrible tragedy,” lawyer Alan Shifman said on behalf of the family.
“We are experiencing the most inconceivable pain and our hearts go out to everyone involved.”
Mr Shifman, the family lawyer, said Elliot Rodger had been diagnosed as being a “highly functional Asperger’s Syndrome child” and was being treated by “multiple” professionals.
Sheriff Bill Brown said authorities recovered three semi-automatic handguns after Friday’s shooting. All of the weapons were legally purchased from federally licensed firearms dealers and were registered to Rodger, 22.
“The problem with an incident like this is it’s obviously the work of a madman,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told a news conference.
“We have obtained and we are currently analysing both written and videotaped evidence that suggests that this atrocity was a premeditated mass murder.”
Authorities said there were nine separate crime scenes in what was a “chaotic” situation.
—with ABC, AAP