Sheriff says Southern California Gunman Flew Under the Radar

Bill Brown, the Santa Barbara County sheriff, after a press conference on Saturday. Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Bill Brown, the Santa Barbara County sheriff, after a press conference on Saturday. Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The gunman involved in a killing spree in Southern California on Friday night was able to persuade sheriff’s deputies who visited him in April that he was not a threat to himself or to others, the sheriff of Santa Barbara County, Bill Brown, said on Sunday morning.

The gunman, identified as Elliot O. Rodger, 22, did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold when deputies visited him as part of a welfare check on April 30, Sheriff Brown said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The deputies were acting on the complaints of Mr. Rodger’s mother, who was alarmed by videos he had posted online.

“They found him to be apparently shy, timid, polite, well-spoken,” Mr. Brown said. “He explained to the deputies that this was a misunderstanding,” and that while he was having some social problems they were unlikely to continue.

“He was able to convince them that he was not at that point a danger to himself or anyone else,” the sheriff said.

In his manifesto, which he called “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger,” Mr. Rodger said of the visit by officers: “The police interrogated me outside for a few minutes, asking me if I had suicidal thoughts. I tactfully told them that it was all a misunderstanding, and they finally left. If they had demanded to search my room… That would have ended everything. For a few horrible seconds I thought it was all over. When the left, the biggest wave of relief swept over me.”

Mr. Rodger, a college student who posted videos about his anger against women for rejecting him, was found dead with a bullet wound to his head after the attacks on Friday. The police said that he had apparently taken his own life.

Police said that Mr. Rodger killed six people and wounded 13 others in the small town of Isla Vista, Calif. He stabbed three men to death in his apartment and shot and killed three students as he drove to several locations in the town, the police said.

“Obviously looking back on this, it’s a very tragic situation, and we certainly wish that we could turn the clock back and maybe change some things,” Sheriff Brown said on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” “But at the time that the deputies interacted with him, he was able to convince them that he was O.K.”

Early Sunday morning the streets of Isla Vista were extremely quiet, save for a few bicyclists and news crews. The town was pockmarked with remnants of the shooting, like the broken glass of a storefront in the middle of town. A pile of flowers and candles sat on the lawn of Alpha Phi Sorority house, where the shooting began. A hastily made sign in red marker stated that the sorority would not speak about the shooting.

Thousands of students attended a candlelight vigil on campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara last night, walking together to a park in Isla Vista.

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Source: The New York Times | EMMA G. FITZSIMMONS and 

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