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Santa Barbara - A 22-year-old who killed six people in a rampage through a California college town before taking his own life said in a chilling manifesto that police nearly foiled his plot when they visited him last month.
Elliot Rodger, the son of a Hollywood director, stabbed three people to death in his apartment before gunning down three more victims on Friday night in the town of Isla Vista near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB).
But less than a month before the attacks, Rodger, a former student at Santa Barbara City College, opened his door to a knock to find about seven officers looking for him.
“I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it,” Rodger said in the manifesto, published in part by the Los Angeles Times.
“If that was the case, the police would have searched my room, found all of my guns and weapons, along with my writings about what I plan to do with them. I would have been thrown in jail, denied of the chance to exact revenge on my enemies. I can't imagine a hell darker than that,” he wrote.
Rodger said he learned that videos he posted online had alarmed his mother, and believed either she or a mental health agency had asked authorities to check up on him. He said the police left after he told them it was all a misunderstanding.
In a YouTube video posted shortly before the rampage, a young man believed by police to be Rodger bitterly complained of loneliness and rejection by women and outlined his plan to kill those he believed spurned him.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown has said that Rodger was seen by a variety of healthcare professionals and it was “very, very apparent he was severely mentally disturbed.”
Brown said his department had been in contact with Rodger three times prior to the killings, including for a welfare check in which deputies found him to be polite and courteous. He did not appear to meet criteria to be held involuntarily on mental health grounds, and deputies took no further action, Brown said.
Family friend Simon Astaire told Reuters in an interview that on Friday night Elliot Rodger's mother, Chin, received a phone call from one of his therapists alerting her to the manifesto, which Elliot had emailed to both of them.
Chin Rodger called 911 and her ex-husband, Peter Rodger, to tell him about the situation, Astaire said. The two parents raced to Isla Vista in separate cars and on the way Chin heard radio reports about the shootings, he said.
Astaire, an author and media consultant, said the parents were “full of fear and full of everything you can imagine.” He said they met with police in Santa Barbara and were told their son was believed to be the gunman.
Elliot Rodger had seen therapists off and on since he was nine years old, Astaire said. He was very reserved to the point of seeming to have trouble communicating with “an underlying sadness about him, a frustration,” Astaire said.
The gunman's family had no idea he had acquired firearms, Astaire said. “There was no suggestion that he had any interest, any liking for guns,” he said.
In a plot laid out in writing, Rodger said he planned to first kill his housemates then lure others to his residence to continue his killings, before slaughtering women in a university sorority and continuing his spree in the streets of Isla Vista. Then, he would commit suicide.
He wrote that he also planned to kill his younger brother, “denying him of the chance to grow up to surpass me”, as well as his stepmother, who he said would be in the way - killings he did not carry out.
But he did not think he was mentally prepared to kill his father, an assistant director on the 2012 film The Hunger Games, according to the manifesto.
A lawyer for the family, Alan Shifman, said they offered sympathy to those affected by the tragedy. Authorities searched the homes of both of Rodger's parents on Sunday but neither appeared to be home at the time.
A neighbour of Elliot Rodger who asked not to be identified told reporters on Sunday that Rodger had attended parties in the courtyard of the building but would sit alone, looking sullen.
One night last summer, the neighbour said, Rodger came home bruised and bloodied from a fight with some men at a party after he had aggressively approached a woman there.
“After the beating he was shaking, profusely crying, his eyes were like water faucets,” the neighbour said. “I've never seen anybody that mad, that upset in my life.”
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office on Sunday identified the three men stabbed to death at Rodger's apartment as Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, George Chen, 19, and Weihan Wang, 20. At least two of the three men were Rodger's roommates, the sheriff's office said.
Students Katherine Cooper, 22, Veronica Weiss, 19, and Christopher Michael-Martinez, 20, were shot and killed in the rampage. Brown said thirteen people were wounded, including eight who were shot.
Following the attack, police found Rodger dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. In his car were three legally purchased semiautomatic guns, two Sig Sauers and a Glock, and 400 rounds of unspent ammunition, Brown said.
The incident follows US mass shootings at schools, shopping malls and military bases. The deadliest US mass shooting in modern times was in 2007 when a student at Virginia Tech killed 32 people. - Reuters