Town mourns after gunman’s rampage

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IOL pic may26 santa barbara mass memorial

Reuters

People attend a memorial service for the victims of the shootings in the Isla Vista neighbourhood of Santa Barbara, California, on May 25, 2014. Picture: Lucy Nicholson

Santa Barbara - Hundreds gathered at a memorial service on Sunday night to mourn six young people killed two nights earlier by a gunman in a California college town.

Two hundred people attended an evening mass at St Mark's University Parish, pausing in front of poster boards dedicated to three of the dead, Veronika Weiss, Katie Cooper and Chris Michael-Martinez.

Elliot Rodger, 22, the son of a Hollywood director, fatally stabbed three people in his apartment before shooting dead three others on Friday in Isla Vista, near the University of California at Santa Barbara campus. He then shot himself.

The Mass of hymns, prayers and moments of silence included a poster “In Memory Of” Rodger. The three other posters read “In Loving Memory Of”.

Rodger killed two women and four men, aged 19 to 22, and wounded 13 people, including eight who he shot as he sped through town in his black BMW, exchanging fire with police, authorities said.

Minutes before opening fire the former community college student emailed his plans to some 30 people including his mother, father and former teachers, said Cathleen Bloeser, whose son was a childhood friend of Rodger and received a copy.

Rodger stated his intention to kill his housemates, lure others to his home to continue the mayhem then slaughter women in a sorority and bring his spree to the streets of Isla Vista.

The manifesto, which details Rodger's fear that his guns might have been discovered when police visited him less than a month ago, was not the first indication of a troubled mind.

“We could see that he was turning,” Bloeser said, adding that Rodger talked to her 22-year-old son and another friend about sexual crimes he wanted to commit against women. “He'd changed emotionally, and he'd become very despondent and he wanted to get back at people.”

Bloeser said Rodger had asked that Bloeser's son, Philip, and a mutual childhood friend to stay with him this weekend at his apartment in Isla Vista.

“I have a feeling that they would have been right there as a part of it and shot as well,” she said.

Family friend Simon Astaire told Reuters that Rodger's mother, Chin, received a phone call on the night of the shooting from his therapist alerting her to the manifesto. She called police and her ex-husband, Peter Rodger, and the two parents raced to Isla Vista, Astaire said.

Chin heard radio reports about the shootings as she drove.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown 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, including for a welfare check at the request of his family in which deputies found him to be polite and courteous and not appearing to meet criteria to be held involuntarily.

Astaire said Rodger had seen therapists off and on since he was nine years old.

Bloeser said the mental health of Rodger, who was bullied as a child and was known to have Asperger's syndrome, deteriorated in the last year and he was under psychiatric care but not taking his medication.

The Los Angeles Times published portions of Rodger's roughly 140-page manifesto in which he detailed his fear that police would foil his plot when they visited him last month.

“I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it,” Rodger wrote.

“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 said police left when he told them it was a misunderstanding.

Rodger also said he did not think he was mentally prepared to kill his father, an assistant director on the 2012 film The Hunger Games. - Reuters


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