(ABC) — The gunman who killed six people in a furious shooting rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara began the spree by stabbing to death three people in his home, police said tonight.
The shooter was identified as Elliot Rodger, 22, a man who videotaped his rage over his rejection by women and vowed “retribution” just hours before the killing began.
He was also identified as the killer by a lawyer for his father Peter Rodger, who was the assistant director for one of the “Hunger Games” films.
The murderous spree ended when Elliot Rodger crashed his car with a bicyclist he had struck on his car windshield. He was found with a gunshot to his head. Sheriff Bill Brown said, “It would appear he took his own life.”
Dylan Fontillas was in the I V Mart when Rodger began firing, killing Christopher Martinez.
Fontillas, 20, said he looked the suspect straight in the eyes during the shooting and said “he almost kind of had a smirk like he was excited about it or he was happy about it. It’s pretty scary. It’s pretty disturbing.”
Fontillas said he hit the floor when the shooting began. He grabbed his cell phone and called his mother because he thought he was going to be killed.
Police said three guns were recovered from Rodger’s car. Police said he had more than 400 rounds of ammunition.
“All were legally purchased from federally licensed dealers and all were registered to the suspect,” the sheriff said.
Brown said cops have had three previous contacts with Rodger before Friday’s shooting, including when a member of Rodger’s family asked police to check on him because of alarm over his behavior and videos. Brown said the cops found no reason to take further action on Rodger.
One of the other incidents occurred in January when he made a citizen’s arrest of his roommate for allegedly stealing three candles, and again in July 2013 when he claimed he had been assaulted. Police determined that Rodger may have been the aggressor, Brown said.
Rodger was being treated by multiple therapists and was a student at Santa Barbara City College, said family lawyer Alan Schifman.
The lawyer said that Rodger’s family was “devastated.”
“They want to send the deepest condolences to all the victims’ families involved at this time,” he said.
Nine people – including Elliot Rodger – were killed and another 13 people were injured in the shooting in the Isla Vista neighborhood Friday, said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, who repeatedly referred to the shooting as a planned mass murder.
“It’s just unfortunate that these kinds of circumstances occur,” said Brown.
The gunman crashed his car after exchanging gunfire with deputies, said Brown, and was found dead with an apparent gunshot wound to the head.
It’s unclear if police shot him or if the wound was self-inflicted. Police also recovered a semiautomatic handgun from the gunman’s car, said Brown.
Schifman said in recent weeks that Rodger’s parents were concerned for their son’s well being and reported his disturbing YouTube videos to police, which lead to an investigation. According to Schifman, police interviewed Rodger and found him to be “polite and kind.” He did not specify which law enforcement division conducted the interview.
A social worker also contacted police about Rodger last week, said Schifman.
Brown said a YouTube video titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution” appeared to be linked to the crime. In the video, a man who identifies himself as Elliot Rodger sits in the driver’s seat of a car as he promises “retribution” and discusses his “loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires.”
“Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men but never to me,” he said in the video. He added that it would be his last video.
Schifman said Rodger was diagnosed as being a high-functioning patient with Asperger syndrome and had trouble making friends.
“There was an incident probably a year and a half ago where he was…he fell from a balcony at a party or was thrown off of it. I think he was probably a victim from my understanding of bullying throughout his life… I’m sure that had played a role in the terrible consequences from last night,” the lawyer said.
Witnesses described the shooting to ABC affiliate KEYT-TV as chaotic and surreal, with many in the crowd mistaking the gunfire for fireworks. One man said that he saw shots fired from a BMW, fatally hitting one woman and critically injuring another woman.
“I heard shots, scream, pain,” Michael Vitak said. “All emotions. I hope she is going to be fine.”
Sierra Swartz told KEYT-TV that the suspect fired at her and that she initially thought the pistol was an air gun.
“Before I started walking the other way he just lifted it up and … he shot and I felt like I just felt the wind pass right by my face,” she said. “I went to a random person’s house and I just ran inside and I was like ‘Honestly, like someone just shot at me.’”
Bystanders said that crowds of people ran from the area and looked for shelter after the shooting started.
“All of a sudden a bunch of people just started running into the store and we were all like ‘Just take cover, take cover,’” UCSB student Cayla Bergman told KEYT-TV. “It was really scary so all of us just called our parents.”
Mike Hassan, owner of a deli where one person was shot, said the incident was the “last thing” he would have expected in the neighborhood.
“I still [do] not believe it … Even [though] I seen it in front of me,” said Hassan.
The University of California, Santa Barbra, released a statement Saturday morning addressing the shooting.
“Our campus community is shocked and saddened by the events that occurred last night in the nearby community of Isla Vista,” read the statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families who are grieving and mourning as a result of this tragedy.”
The university did not say if any of the victims were involved with the school in any capacity.
The victims’ identities were not immediately released. Brown said the injured were being treated for gunshot wounds and traumatic injuries, including at least one person who underwent surgery for life-threatening injuries.