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Santa Barbara shooting suspect feared police would foil attack

Hundreds of students and community members gathered into Anisq'Oyo' Park in Isla Vista, California Saturday evening to mourn those lost in the mass shooting that left 13 injured and seven dead.

Casey Barbello, 21, a third-year student at nearby UC Santa Barbara, said, "I just wanted to pay my respects for the individuals who lost their lives. I didn't know any of them personally, but it's nice to come out and support everybody else who is mourning."

Attendees said Friday's killing rampage made them realize such a thing could happen anywhere. 

Henry T. Yang, chancellor of UC Santa Barbara, said, "We are here to share our sorrow, shock and pain." In the weeks to come, "we will continue to draw strength and comfort from each other," he said. 

Many people turned their attention to remembering the dead. 

Victim Veronika Weiss, 19, a UCSB student from Westlake, was recalled as a bright, athletic and outgoing young woman. Her Facebook page featured an announcement for a sorority basketball game that was scheduled to take place Saturday, the day after the shooting.

“She definitely has a big personality, very outgoing, friendly. She was very well-liked,” recalled Michelle Noyes, 19, who was friends with Weiss at Westlake High and in middle school.

“She was a leader,” Noyes said in a telephone interview. “She would take control -- like in a good way -- of the group. I remember she ended up planning our homecoming, like what we did before, for a few years. “

The two were both on the swim team, and Noyes said Weiss also played water polo.

“She was a good water polo player,” Noyes said. “I think she might have gotten some awards.”

A student named Courtney was friends with Katherine Breann Cooper, 22, another of the victims of Friday’s rampage. She described her friend as sweet and a princess.

“A self-proclaimed princess and I know that she has her crown on in heaven,” she said.

Shooting timeline

The gunman in the Isla Vista, California, shootings has been identified as Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old student at a city college who had three previous contacts with local law enforcement, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters on Saturday.

"This incident appears to be a mass murder situation," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. "We currently have seven people confirmed dead. That includes the suspect and six victims." Thirteen more were injured -- four by the suspect's car and eight sustained gun shot wounds, Brown said.

"It is very, very apparent the the suspect was severely mentally disturbed," Brown said.

According to officials, the shooting spree began at the suspect's residence where three males were murdered. The victims at the home were repeatedly stabbed.

"It was a pretty horrific crime scene," Brown told reporters.

Authorities said Rodger, the alleged suspect, would go to 10 separate locations before the mass shooting came to an end. Following the stabbings, the suspect drove to a sorority, where he shot three female UCSB students walking on a sidewalk opposite the structure. Two of those victims died -- Katherine Breann Cooper, 22, and Veronika Weiss, 19. The third female suffered multiple gun shot wounds.

The alleged suspect, a student at Santa Barbara City College, then moved on to a nearby deli, where he left his vehicle to shoot 20-year-old Christopher Martinez -- another UCSB student. Sheriff deputies saw the shooting suspect flee the scene in his car when they went to investigate shots fired. The suspect continued to drive around shooting at pedestrians. Before the shooting ended, two bicyclists were struck with his vehicle.

Brown said deputies exchanged fire with the suspected gunman twice before his vehicle crashed. During one of the exchanges, the suspect was shot in the hip area. The spree came to an end when Rodger crashed his car into parked vehicles. At that time, officials said the suspect was pulled from the vehicle with a gun shot to the head.

"It would appear he took his own life at this point," Brown said.

Three semi-automatic handguns were receovered from the suspect's car, police said. All of the weapons were legally purchased and registered to the suspect. Over 400 remaining rounds were found in the suspect's possession by the end of the melee', Brown added.

"Four patients were treated and released," said Dr. Stephen Kaminski, Trauma Services Director of Cottage Health System at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. "Seven were transported to the trauma center and remain there -- two are in good condition, three in fair condition, and two in serious condition."

"It's obviously the work of a madman," Brown said at a news conference. "There's going to be a lot more information that will come out that will give a clearer picture of just how disturbed this individual was."

Santa Barbara County sheriff's officials said they had contact with Rodger three times since 2013, but that none of them prompted suspicion. One incident involved a welfare check last month after family members called expressing concern about his health. The deputies said Rodger, 22, seemed to be fine and did not take any action against him.

In January, officials said, Rodger accused his roommate of stealing three candles worth $22 and performed a citizen's arrest. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department eventually arrested the roommate and booked him on petty theft charges.

Last summer, he accused several people of assaulting him. But investigators concluded he was the aggressor in the incident and a detective suspended the case.

In a 137-page document Rodger wrote, he mentioned the sheriff's welfare check last month, saying his whole plan would have been foiled had the officer found his guns and writing, which were in his room.

"That would have ended everything," he wrote. "For a few horrible seconds, I thought it was all over."

The investigation is ongoing.

YouTube Manifesto?

Brown said authorities were investigating a possible connection between the suspected gunman and an online video that was uploaded to YouTube on Friday night.

In the video, a young man who identifies himself as Elliot Rodger, pours out his hatred of women who have rejected him and "popular kids," and says he is about to kill people out of loneliness and sexual frustration.

YouTube has since removed the video, posting in its place a notice saying the video violated its terms of service. A spokeswoman for Google Inc, which owns YouTube, was not available for comment.

The nearly seven-minute-long video shows a young man sitting at the wheel of a stationary car. He complains he is still a virgin at age 22 and that he is angry at women for refusing to have sex with him or even kiss him and at men for appearing to be happier and more successful than him.

(A full transcript of the video is available here.)

The video shows a young man who says he is a 22-year-old virgin complaining bitterly and repeatedly that women have rejected him.

"For the last eight years of my life, since I hit puberty, I've been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires, all because girls have never been attracted to me," he says on the video shot inside a car.

"Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men, never to me." "I'm 22 years old and still a virgin, never even kissed a girl. And through college, 2 1/2 years, more than that actually, I'm still a virgin. It has been very torturous."

"I will have my revenge against humanity. I will punish all of you for it." "I will be a god compared to you, you will all be animals, you are animals and I will slaughter you like animals. I'll be a god exacting my retribution on all those who deserve it and you do deserve it just for the crime of living a better life than me."

A source close to the family said police were alerted about the videos prior to the shooting. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the family of Elliot Rodger made the report to police last month. It was unclear which videos they saw because Rodger appeared to have posted several on YouTube in which he talks about his alienation and threatens violence.

“I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one, the true alpha male,” the man says on the video, sitting in a car.

Rodger's YouTube channel contains several other videos of Rodger lamenting the loneliness he says he has felt ever since entering puberty, his tone veering from anger to despair. Most of them were uploaded in the past week.

One video is called: "Being lonely on Spring Break sucks." Another: "Why do girls hate me?" About three weeks ago, he wrote on his YouTube channel that he had temporarily taken some of his videos down "due to the alarm it caused with some people in my family."

Elliot Rodger is the son of Peter Rodger, who was an assistant director on the 2012 film “The Hunger Games." He also directed a 2009 documentary “Oh My God” in which various people were asked to answer the question “What is God?”

Brown said police were aware of Rodger's 141-page manifesto and the videos 'fairly quickly' in the investigation. Brown said after viewing them, it was apparent of "how disturbed Mr. Rodger was."

In the printed document, Rodger described his anger and alienation.

"On the day before the Day of Retribution, I will start the First Phase of my vengeance: Silently killing as many people as I can around Isla Vista by luring them into my apartment through some form of trickery," he wrote.

The manifesto appears to be similar to YouTube videos Rodger made.

Rodger’s father said through an attorney that he believes Elliot Rodger is the suspect. “I cannot confirm that but we believe it,” the attorney, Alan Shifman, told reporters. “Police would not tell us with 100 percent certainty” that it’s his son,” the attorney said.

In a statement, the family said, “The Rodger family offers our deepest compassion and sympathies to the families involved in this terrible tragedy. We are experiencing the most inconceivable pain and our hearts go out to everyone involved.&rdquo

Neighbor Boris Bakalinsky said he knows the father and his son. He said the elder Rodger had lived in the neighborhood for about 20 years.

“The boy, it’s just shocking, we just never expected it,” Bakalinsky said.

He said Elliot Rodger was always quiet but very polite, saying hello every time he walked his dog in the neighborhood. He said he thinks he lived part-time with his father, who was separated from his wife.

Victim's father: 'Stop the madness'

The father of a UCSB shooting victim denounced the National Rifle Association and politicians in a heartfelt plea to “stop this madness."

A visibly distraught Richard Martinez publicly mourned the loss of his son Christopher, 20, in a heartbreaking speech at a press conference on Saturday in Santa Barbara.

“Our son Chris Martinez and six others are dead,” Martinez said.“Our family has a message for every parent out there: You don't think it will happen to your child until it does.”

“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. 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!” Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, “Not one more!”

UCSB responds

UCSB President Janet Napolitano said she was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the shooting near the campus. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy, their families and the entire SantaBarbara community," she said in a statement.

Napolitano, formerly U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, said victims' families still were being notified. The university was offering services to family members, faculty and students, including counseling, she said. 

Some 23,000 people live in Isla Vista. Many are students at UCSB or at Santa Barbara City College. 

'Bang, bang, bang'

Robert Johnson, a 21-year-old UCSB student, said he first noticed trouble after a car drove past him at a busy Isla Vista intersection and he then heard "popping noises" that he originally mistook for firecrackers or the car backfiring. "Then the sound came again, and by that point it had pulled up in front of a convenience store deli, and someone in the car was firing into a crowd of about eight, 10 people that were gathered in front of the store," he said. "Everyone that was being fired upon, they all jumped and scrambled to run inside the store," he said. The car had darkly tinted windows and the occupant was not visible, Johnson said.

Witness Xavier Mozejewski told a local TV station the incident was like an "old western shoot-out." College student Brad Martin told a University of California at Santa Barbara student newspaper that his girlfriend was "absolutely hysterical" after being approached by the gunman with a weapon she initially was not sure was real. "She said the next second he raised it up to her face ... and she turned around and started running. That's when she heard 'bang, bang, bang' right behind her as she was running," Martin told the Daily Nexus.

Nikolaus Becker, An 18-year-old Newport Beach man who was visiting Santa Barbara, described a confusing scene as the shots rang out.

Becker was eating outside a restaurant named The Habit, 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 black BMW with dark tinted windows 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 girl 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."

Another shooting

The shooting was yet another in a string of mass violence to strike across the United States. Last month, a gunman killed three people and himself at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas, where another gunman killed 13 people in 2009. The 2009 gunman, then Maj. Nidal Hasan, has since been convicted in the massacre and sentenced to death.

In between the two Fort Hood incidents, a civilian contractor killed 13 at the Washington Navy Yard in September 2013 before being killed in a shootout with police.  

In December 2012, 20 children and six adults along with the gunman were killed in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Six months before that, a gunman killed 14 people in a Denver-area movie theater during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." James Holmes, the alleged shooter, is currently facing trial in Colorado.

The deadliest U.S. mass shooting in modern times was in 2007, when a student at Virginia Tech killed 32 people in an early morning campus shooting spree. The gunman did not survive.

-Reuters and the Los Angeles Times contributed

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