Suspect in California Shooting Posted Video Vowing Revenge for Rejection From Girls

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 24 2014 12:02 PM

Suspect in California Shooting Posted Video Vowing Revenge for Rejection From Girls

Santa Barbara
The vehicle of the alleged shooter is pictured at one of the crime scenes after a series of drive-by shootings in the Isla Vista section of Santa Barbara

Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters

Seven people, including the suspected shooter, died Friday night as the result of a series of drive-by shootings in a small college town in Southern California. Authorities are calling it “premeditated mass murder” adding that the suspect was “severely mentally disturbed,” reports local ABC affiliate KEYT-TV. Although police would not identify the suspected gunman, the connection was quickly made to a chilling video posted by a young man who identified himself as 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, titled “retribution,” reports the Santa Barbara Independent. In the video, the young man vows to take revenge for what he describes as a lifetime of sexual rejection.

"Girls, all I’ve ever wanted was to love you and to be loved by you. I've wanted sex. I've wanted love, affection, adoration. You think I’m unworthy of it. That's a crime that can never be forgiven. If I can't have you girls, I will destroy you,” the young man says in the video before laughing maniacally as if a caricature of a villain in a movie. Earlier in the video, he described how he is a 22-year-old virgin and “I’ve never even kissed a girl.” Several other videos in his account have similar themes: “My reaction to seeing a young couple at the beach, Envy” and “Life is so unfair because girls don't want me.”

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Later in the day, online talk that Elliot Rodger is the son of Peter Rodger, an assistant director of the Hunger Games, was confirmed. Alan Shifman, a lawyer representing Peter Rodger, said his family had warned police weeks ago after they saw the videos “regarding suicide and the killing of people." Police apparently interviewed Elliot Rodger and found him to be a “perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human,” the lawyer added. "On behalf of the Rodgers family they want to make sure that the victims and the victims' families are aware that this is the tragedy of the most extreme," Shifman said, according to the Associated Press. "They want to send their deepest condolences to all of the victims' families involved."

The shooting spree began at 9:27 p.m. and then continued as a series of drive-by shootings that were followed by “two separate gunfights with deputies,” reports the Los Angeles Times. It seems the shooter may have even struck up conversations with some of his victims. One witness told KEYT-TV that she was approached by the driver of a black BMW, which is the same car that the young man in the YouTube videos has, who called out “Hey, what’s up?” while flashing a handgun. Seconds later she says she felt something buzz by her head and realized they were bullets. Following the second gunfight with officers, the shooter crashed into a parked vehicle and police officers discovered the man was shot dead. It’s unclear whether he shot himself or whether he was shot by police officers. Authorities are investigating nine crime scenes.

UPDATE: The original "retribution" video was taken down so it was replaced by Slate's own rip of the video. This post has been updated with new information since it was first published.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.