A series of drive-by shootings in the Isla Vista area near UC Santa Barbara on Friday night left seven people dead, including a man believed to have carried out the attacks, and seven injured.
The man believed to be the shooter was found dead inside his vehicle with a gunshot wound after engaging in two separate gunfights with deputies, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office said. It’s unknown if the gunshot was self-inflicted or if the suspect was shot by authorities.
The deadly shooting spree started at 9:27 p.m. in Isla Vista. As deputies were tending to the injured in the first round of shootings, reports of gunfire in several other areas of the college community were reported.
Six minutes after the first 911 call came in, the unidentified man began shooting at deputies, who returned fire. He fled and seconds later was spotted by another deputy, prompting another firefight.
He then took off down Del Playa Drive and crashed into a parked vehicle, the sheriff’s office said. When deputies approached the vehicle they discovered the man was dead and recovered a semi-automatic handgun.
He has been preliminary identified, but his name hasn’t been released pending positive identification, authorities said. Investigators believe he acted alone and they’re currently analyzing video and written evidence that suggests the killings were premeditated.
The seven injured people are being treated for gunshot wounds or traumatic injuries; their conditions are unknown. At least one of them has undergone surgery.
The identities of the six people killed, possibly by the suspected shooter, are not being released until next of kin are notified.
Authorities are investigating nine crime scenes and are interviewing a large number of witnesses, sheriff officials said.
Nikolaus Becker was eating outside the Habit, 888 Embarcadero Del Norte, near the scene when the first set of shots was fired about 9:30 p.m. At first he thought it was firecrackers. A group of three to five police officers who were nearby started to casually walk toward the sounds, said Becker, but ran when a second round of shots broke out.
"That's when they yelled at us to get inside and take cover," Becker said.
A BMW took a sharp turn in front of the Habit, Becker said, and moments later a third round of shots was heard. Becker and his friends moved toward the restaurant's kitchen but were told to wait in the seating area by employees.
He estimates there were at least 13 to 15 shots total at three locations. The locations were about 100 yards from one another.
Becker said one of his friends who came into the restaurant after the shootings saw a police officer trying to resuscitate a bloody male who was hit.
Another woman came into the Habit crying and said her sorority sister had also been struck.
When Becker emerged from the restaurant about 30 minutes later, he saw three light-colored body bags.
"It was chaotic and there's a lot of rumors flying around," Becker said. "It was so strange, afterwards there was still people outside riding their bikes. One guy was doing his homework."
Witness Xavier Mozejewski told KEYT-TV that the incident resembled an "old Western shootout."
TV footage showed ambulances and police cars swarming the scene. Witnesses said multiple shots were fired from a car and that several people were hit. The Daily Nexus, the campus newspaper, reported a witness saying the car hit several pedestrians.