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2014 Isla Vista killings

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2014 Isla Vista killings
Isla Vista is located in southern California
Isla Vista
Isla Vista
Isla Vista (southern California)
LocationIsla Vista, California, United States
Coordinates34°24′43″N 119°51′32″W / 34.412°N 119.859°W / 34.412; -119.859Coordinates: 34°24′43″N 119°51′32″W / 34.412°N 119.859°W / 34.412; -119.859
DateMay 23, 2014 (2014-05-23)
~9:27 p.m. (UTC−8:00)
TargetStudents of the University of California, Santa Barbara
Attack type
Weapons
Deaths7 (3 by stabbing, 4 by gunfire including the perpetrator)
Injured14 (7 by gunfire, 7 struck by motor vehicle)
PerpetratorElliot Rodger
MotiveRevenge for perceived sexual and social rejection

On the evening of May 23, 2014, Elliot Rodger[1][2][3][4][5] killed six people and injured fourteen others – by gunshot, stabbing and vehicle ramming – in Isla Vista, California near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), then killed himself.

Rodger stabbed three men to death in his apartment, apparently one by one on their arrival. About three hours later he drove to a sorority house, and after failing to get inside shot three women outside, two of whom died. He next drove past a nearby deli and shot to death a male student inside. He then began to drive through Isla Vista, shooting and wounding several pedestrians from his car and striking several others with his car. He exchanged gunfire with police twice, and was injured in the hip. After his car crashed into a parked vehicle, he was found dead inside with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Before driving to the sorority house, Rodger uploaded to YouTube a video titled "Elliot Rodger's Retribution", in which he outlined his planned attack and his motives. He explained that he wanted to punish women for rejecting him, and sexually active men because he envied them. He also emailed a lengthy autobiographical manuscript to acquaintances, his therapist, and family members; the document appeared on the Internet and became widely known as his manifesto. In it, he described his childhood, family conflicts, frustration over inability to find a girlfriend, his hatred of women, his contempt for couples (particularly interracial couples) and his plans for what he described as "retribution".

Elliot Rodger[edit]

Elliot Rodger
Born
Elliot Oliver Robertson Rodger

(1991-07-24)July 24, 1991
DiedMay 23, 2014(2014-05-23) (aged 22)
Cause of deathSuicide by self-inflicted gunshot
NationalityEnglish American
Parent(s)Peter Rodger
RelativesGeorge Rodger (grandfather)

Early life[edit]

Elliot Oliver Robertson Rodger was born in London, United Kingdom, and moved to the United States with his parents when he was five years old.[6] He was raised in Los Angeles. His father is British filmmaker Peter Rodger, his paternal grandfather photo-journalist George Rodger.[5][7] His mother is a Malaysian Chinese research assistant for a film company.[8][9][10] A younger sister was born before his parents divorced. After his father remarried, he and his second wife Soumaya Akaaboune, a Moroccan actress, had a son together.[11]

Rodger attended Crespi Carmelite High School, an all-boys Catholic school in Encino, Los Angeles, and then Taft High School in Woodland Hills.[12] He graduated from Independence Continuation High School in Lake Balboa in 2009,[12] and briefly attended Los Angeles Pierce College and Moorpark College before moving to Isla Vista in 2011.[13] He attended Santa Barbara City College; in his manifesto he said that he dropped out of his classes in February 2012;[14] after the killings the school said he had no longer been taking classes.[15]

Mental health and social problems[edit]

According to his family's attorney and a family friend, Rodger had seen multiple therapists since he was eight years old,[15] but the attorney said he had never been formally diagnosed with a mental illness.[16] He was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, an autism spectrum disorder, in 2007.[13]

By the ninth grade, Rodger was "increasingly bullied", and wrote later that he "cried by [himself] at school every day";[17] at this time he developed an obsession with the multiplayer-online game World of Warcraft, which dominated his life for most of his teenage years, and briefly into his 20s. At Crespi Carmelite High he was bullied; in one incident his head was taped to a desk while he was asleep.[3][18] According to Rodger, in 2012, "the one friend [he] had in the whole world who truly understood [him] ... said he didn't want to be friends anymore" without offering any reason.[17] Rodger had a YouTube account, and a blog titled "Elliot Rodger's Official Blog", through which he expressed loneliness and rejection. He wrote that he had been prescribed risperidone but refused to take it, stating, "After researching this medication, I found that it was the absolute wrong thing for me to take."[19]

After turning 18, Rodger began rejecting mental health care and became increasingly isolated. He said that he was unable to make friends, although acquaintances said that he rebuffed their attempts to be friendly.[20] Family friend Dale Launer said that he counseled Rodger on approaching women, but that Rodger did not follow the advice; Launer also commented that when he met Rodger at eight or nine, "I could see then that there was something wrong with him ... looking back now he strikes me as someone who was broken from the moment of conception."[21]

Early incidents[edit]

In 2011, Rodger threw coffee on a couple he was jealous of;[22]:87 in another incident, he splashed coffee on two girls for not smiling at him.[22]:100 In 2012 Rodger used a Super Soaker filled with orange juice to spray a group playing kickball at Girsh Park.[22]:106–107[23]

Referring to an incident in July 2013,[23] Rodger wrote that after being mocked at a party he tried but failed to shove some girls over a ten-foot ledge; instead other boys pushed him over and his ankle was injured. When he went back for his sunglasses he was again mocked, and beaten. A neighbor saw Rodger come home crying and vowing to kill the men involved and then himself.[17] He wrote in his manifesto that the incident was the final trigger for his planning the attack.[23]

In January 2014, Rodger accused Cheng Yuan Hong, one of his roommates, of stealing some candles; Hong pleaded guilty to petty theft.[24][25] On April 30,[26] Rodger's parents contacted police after becoming alarmed by his behavior and YouTube videos.[22]:134[4][27] Sheriff's deputies who visited Rodger determined that he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary mental health commitment; Rodger had told them he had a "misunderstanding" with his parents.[28]

Manifesto and online posts[edit]

Rodger emailed his 107,000-word manifesto, My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger,[29] to 34 people,[13]:7 including his therapist, Charles Sophy,[30][31] his parents and other family,[32] former teachers, and childhood friends.[33] In it he said he'd originally sought to carry out an attack on Halloween of 2013, but reconsidered because he thought there would be too many police about.[22]:110

In his last YouTube video, "Elliot Rodger's Retribution", he complained of being rejected by women and envying sexually active men, and described his planned attack[34] and the motives behind it.[35] In the video, he says:

Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against humanity, against all of you. For the last eight years of my life, ever 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. Girls gave their affection, and sex and love to other men but never to me.[36] I'm 22 years old and I'm still a virgin. I've never even kissed a girl. I've been through college for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I'm still a virgin. It has been very torturous. College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I've had to rot in loneliness. It's not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. 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, because ... I don't know what you don't see in me. I'm the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.[36]

He wrote in My Twisted World that being of mixed race made him "different from the normal fully white kids".[3][17] On one online forum, he said that he opposed interracial dating and made several racist posts regarding African-American, Hispanic, South Asian and East Asian people, stating that seeing men of these ethnic groups socializing with white women "makes you want to quit life."[17][22]:87[37] In one online post, Rodger wrote:

Full Asian men are disgustingly ugly and white girls would never go for you. You're just butthurt that you were born as an Asian piece of shit, so you lash out by linking these fake pictures. You even admit that you wish you were half white. You'll never be half-white and you'll never fulfill your dream of marrying a white woman. I suggest you jump off a bridge.[37]

In his manifesto, Rodger made a racist comment regarding another boy, outlining some of his plans:

How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves.[22]:84 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.[38]

A "War on Women" was the second phase of his plan:[18]

The Second Phase will take place on the Day of Retribution itself, just before the climactic massacre ... My War on Women ... I will attack the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender: The hottest sorority of UCSB.[39]

Rodger stated in his manifesto that in his ideal world, he imagined that he would "quarantine all [women] in concentration camps. At these camps, the vast majority of the female population will be deliberately starved to death. That would be an efficient and fitting way to kill them all off ... I would have an enormous tower built just for myself ... and gleefully watch them all die."[22]:136 He also dreamed of "a pure world, [where] the man's mind can develop to greater heights than ever before. Future generations will live their lives free of having to worry about the barbarity of sex and women, which will enable them to expand their intelligence and advance the human race to a state of perfect civilization".[22]:137

He further said that he planned to kill his half-brother and stepmother, but was not mentally prepared to kill his father.[27]

Preparations[edit]

In September 2012, Rodger visited a shooting range to practice firing handguns.[14] In November 2012 he purchased his first handgun, a Glock 34 pistol, in Goleta after doing research on handguns, choosing it as "an efficient and highly accurate weapon".[30] In early 2013, Rodger bought two additional handguns, both SIG Sauer P226 pistols, writing that they were "of a much higher quality than the Glock" and "a lot more efficient".[14] He purchased the weapons legally in Oxnard and Burbank California.[40]

Rodger claimed[where?] to have saved $5,000, which was given to him by his parents and grandmothers, in order to purchase the weapons and supplies for the attacks.[14][41] Gun law experts in California have said that there was nothing in his known history that prevented him from making legal firearm purchases.[20]

Attacks[edit]

Rodger began his attacks at his apartment on Seville Road, where three men were killed by numerous stab wounds to their upper bodies. Bloodstains later found in the building's hallway suggested that one or more of the victims had been attacked as he entered, and a bloody bath towel and paper towels in the bathroom suggest Rodger had attempted to clean the hallway.[13] Their positions suggested that each was killed separately as he entered.[42] Two of the victims were confirmed to be Rodger's roommates according to an apartment lease, while police were investigating whether the third was also a resident or visiting the apartment on the night of the killings.[2][43][44][45][a]

After the stabbings, Rodger purchased coffee at a coffee shop,[13] then at around 8:30 p.m., he was seen working on his laptop in his car in the parking lot of his apartment building.[49] He uploaded his "Retribution" video at 9:17 and sent his manifesto e-mail at 9:18.[50] After receiving a copy of the manifesto, Rodger's therapist phoned his mother, who – finding the "Retribution" video on Rodger's YouTube channel – contacted Rodger's father. In separate cars they left Los Angeles for Santa Barbara, calling Isla Vista police while en route.[13][31]

Rodger drove to the Alpha Phi sorority house at Embarcadero del Norte and Segovia Road near UCSB,[b] where he knocked on the front door for a few minutes[52] then began shooting people nearby. Two women were killed[53] and a third was injured.[3][13][15][54]

Rodger began driving again. He fired into an unoccupied coffee shop on Pardall Road, then several times into a delicatessen; a man was struck seven times and killed.[13]

Rodger drove south on Embarcadero del Norte on the wrong side of the street, striking a pedestrian and firing at, but missing, two persons on the sidewalk. He shot a couple exiting a pizzeria and a female cyclist.[4][13][55][56][57][58] He drove south on El Embarcadero and shot at and missed a woman,[59] turned east on Del Playa Drive, and made a U-turn to drive west. He then exchanged fire with a sheriff's deputy responding to a telephone report, and struck two pedestrians.[13][57][60][61][62]

Turning north on Camino del Sur, Rodger shot and wounded three people at Sabado Tarde Street, and also struck a skateboarder and two cyclists with his car. Turning east on Sabado Tarde, he struck another skateboarder with his car and shot two other men at the intersection with Camino Pescadero.[13] On Sabado Tarde near Little Acorn Park, Rodger exchanged gunfire with three sheriff's deputies, and was shot in the hip.[15][60][61][63][64] Pursued by police,[13] he turned south a second time onto El Embarcadero, then west again on Del Playa. He struck a cyclist, then crashed on the north sidewalk just east of the intersection of Del Playa and Camino Pescadero.[65][66]

At 9:35, police found Rodger dead inside his car from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.[13] In the car were three pistols, knives, six empty ten-round magazines, and 548 rounds of unspent ammunition.[13]

Victims[edit]

All six murder victims were students at UCSB.[53][60] The men killed at Rodger's apartment were George Chen (Chinese: 陳喬治; pinyin: Chén Qiáozhì), 19; Cheng Yuan "James" Hong (Chinese: 洪晟元; pinyin: Hóng Chéngyuán), 20; and Weihan "David" Wang (Chinese: 王偉漢; pinyin: Wáng Wěihàn), 20.[67][68][69] The three who died from gunshot wounds were Katherine Breann Cooper, 22; Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20; and Veronika Elizabeth Weiss, 19.[53] Cooper and Weiss were the women killed outside the Alpha Phi sorority house, while Michaels-Martinez was the victim inside the Isla Vista Deli Mart.[3][70]

Fourteen other people were injured; seven from gunshot wounds and seven by blunt trauma sustained when Rodger struck them with his vehicle.[13][71] Eleven of the injured were taken to hospitals. Seven went to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where two were admitted in serious condition, one in fair condition, and two others in good condition, and one patient was released on the same day. The remaining four injured were taken to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, where they were all treated and released.[46][54]

Reactions and discussion[edit]

Controversy over video airing[edit]

Several news networks limited the use of the "Retribution" video posted by Rodger for fear of triggering copycat crimes.[72]

The New Statesman posited that the manifesto may influence a "new generation of 'involuntary celibates'".[73]

Memorial services[edit]

Memorial service at Harder Stadium, May 27

Students and community members gathered at Anisq'Oyo' Park in Isla Vista on the evening of May 24 for a candlelight memorial to remember the victims.[71][74] On May 27 some 20,000 people attended a memorial service at UCSB's Harder Stadium. [75]

On May 23, 2015, the first anniversary of the attacks, hundreds of people gathered at UCSB for a candlelight vigil commemorating the six slain victims. The mother of George Chen was scheduled to speak at the event.[76]

Gun control and mental health[edit]

The attacks renewed calls for gun control and improvements in the US health care system, with Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal saying,

A year and half ago it seemed like we were on the verge of, potentially, legislation that would stop the madness and end the insanity that has killed too many young people, thousands, tens of thousands since Sandy Hook. I hope, I really, sincerely hope that this tragedy, this unimaginable, unspeakable tragedy, will provide impetus to bring back measures that would keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people who are severely troubled or deranged like this young man was.[77][78]

California Senator Dianne Feinstein blamed the National Rifle Association's "stranglehold" on gun laws for the attack and said "shame on us" in Congress for failing to do something about it.[79] Pennsylvania Congressman Timothy F. Murphy, a clinical psychologist, said his bipartisan mental health overhaul would be a solution and urged Congress to pass it.[80]

Richard Martinez, the father of victim Christopher Michaels-Martinez, gave a speech in which he placed the blame of the attacks on "craven, irresponsible" politicians and the National Rifle Association.[81][82] Martinez later urged the public to join him in "demanding immediate action" from members of Congress regarding gun control. He also expressed his sympathy towards Rodger's parents.[83]

Doris A. Fuller, the executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, said that California law permitted emergency psychiatric evaluations of potentially dangerous individuals through provisions, but such actions were never enabled during the initial police investigation of Rodger. She said,

Once again, we are grieving over deaths and devastation caused by a young man who was sending up red flags for danger that failed to produce intervention in time to avert tragedy. In this case, the red flags were so big the killer's parents had called police ... and yet the system failed.[84]

Some California lawmakers called for an investigation into the deputies' contact with Rodger on April 30, at which time the California gun ownership database reflected the fact that Rodger had bought at least two handguns. Deputies did not check the database, nor did they view the YouTube videos that had prompted Rodger's parents to contact them.[85] In September 2014 California legislators passed a "red flag law" to enable judges to have guns seized from persons who are a danger to themselves or to others.[86]

Misogyny[edit]

The attack sparked discussion of broader issues of violence against women and misogyny.[87][88] Rodger frequented online forums such as PUAHate and ForeverAlone where he and other men posted misogynistic statements,[89] subscribed to several "pick-up artist" YouTube channels,[90] and described himself online as an "incel" – a member of an online subculture based around its members' perceived inability to find a romantic or sexual partner.[91][92][93]

He wrote that after purchasing his first gun he "felt a new sense of power. I was now armed. Who's the alpha male now, bitches? I thought to myself, regarding all of the girls who've looked down on me in the past."[94] He also described his plan to invade a sorority house:[60] He wrote, "I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see inside there. All those girls I've desired so much. They have all rejected me and looked down on me as an inferior man."[95]

Mary Elizabeth Williams objected to Rodger being labeled the "virgin killer", saying that implies that "one possible cause of male aggression is a lack of female sexual acquiescence".[96] Amanda Hess, writing for Slate, argued that although Rodger killed more men than women, his motivations were misogynistic because his reason for hating the men he attacked was that he thought they stole the women he felt entitled to.[97] Writing for Reason, Cathy Young countered with "that seems like a good example of stretching the concept into meaninglessness – or turning it into unfalsifiable quasi-religious dogma" and wrote that Rodger also wrote many hateful messages about other men.[98] National Post columnist Barbara Kay criticized the focus on the female victims and pointed to gendered massacres targeting males, such as in wartime Srebrenica and a school massacre carried out by Boko Haram.[99]

Comments and coverage of misogyny as a root cause have generated criticisms of oversimplification and distortion of the events, which included the killings of more men than women and Rodger's mental health issues.[100] Some writers used the #NotAllMen hashtag on Twitter to express the fact that not all men are misogynistic and not all men commit murder. Others criticized use of this hashtag, as it was considered to derail from discussion of the issue of violence against women.[89][101][102] Someone created the Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen on May 24 to express the idea that all women experience misogyny and sexism, although not all men are sexist.[101][103][104]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A law enforcement source stated that Weihan Wang was visiting the apartment at the time of the killings,[46] but other sources say that Wang shared the same apartment as Cheng Yuan Hong and George Chen, who were his friends. They said he had made plans to move into another apartment prior to his death due to Rodger playing loud music in the middle of the night.[45][47] Hong also made similar plans to move out of the apartment, telling friends he was worried for his safety.[48]
  2. ^ In his "Retribution" video, Rodger said he would enter the "hottest sorority house of UCSB" and kill every woman inside.[51] In his manifesto, he had identified that sorority as Alpha Phi.[22]:132

References[edit]

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