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Killer's family tried to intervene before rampage

By Martha Mendoz & Michael R. Blood

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:53 a.m. HST, May 26, 2014


GOLETA, Calif. >> It was Friday night when Elliot Rodger's mother got a call from her son's therapist that he had emailed a ranting manifesto about going on a deadly rampage.

The mother went to her son's YouTube channel and found the video in which he threatens to kill people. She alerted authorities and set off frantically with her ex-husband to Santa Barbara.

By the time they arrived, it was too late: their son had killed six people and then, authorities say, himself.

"They're in deep, deep grief," family friend Simon Astaire said Sunday as he recounted the family's ordeal. "Their grief which is nearly unbearable to be close to is as much for the loss of their son as for the victims."

It was the second time in recent months that Rodger's mother tried to intervene. In April, she had called one of her son's counselors after seeing bizarre videos he had posted on YouTube, though not the disturbing one he posted shortly before the killings, Astaire said. The counselor called a mental health service, which then called police.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies who showed up at Rodger's doorstep to check on his mental health, however, weren't aware of any videos, the department's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said. They concluded after their visit that the well-mannered if shy young man posed no risk.

Sheriff Bill Brown has defended the deputies' actions, but the case highlights the challenges that police face in assessing the mental health of adults, particularly those with no history of violent breakdowns, institutionalizations or serious crimes.

"Obviously, looking back on this, it's a very tragic situation and we certainly wish that we could turn the clock back and maybe change some things," Brown told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

"At the time deputies interacted with him, he was able to convince them that he was OK," he said.

It's not clear whether the mother's concern about the videos was conveyed to the deputies. An email to the counselor was not immediately returned.

Doris A. Fuller, executive director of the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, said California law has provisions that permit emergency psychiatric evaluations of individuals who pose a serious threat, but that was never triggered.

Rodger's family has disclosed their son was under the care of therapists.

"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," Fuller said in a statement.

"In this case, the red flags were so big the killer's parents had called police ... and yet the system failed," she said.

Rodger, writing in a manifesto, said the police asked whether he had suicidal thoughts, and he was able to convince them he was fine. He said he was relieved his apartment wasn't searched because deputies would have uncovered the cache of weapons he used in the rampage in Isla Vista.

He posted at least 22 YouTube videos. He wrote in his manifesto that he uploaded most of his videos in the week leading up to April 26, when he originally planned to carry out his attacks. He postponed his plan after catching a cold.

"On the week leading up to date I set for the Day of Retribution, I uploaded several videos onto YouTube in order to express my views and feelings to the world, though I don't plan on uploading my ultimate video until minutes before the attack, because on that video I will talk about exactly why I'm doing this," Rodger wrote.

In the final video posted Friday, he sits in a black BMW in sunset light and appears to be acting out scripted lines and planned laughs.

"I'll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you," the son of a Hollywood director who worked on "The Hunger Games" says.

In his videos and writings, Rodger voices his contempt for everyone from his roommates to the human race, reserving special hate for two groups: the women he says kept him a virgin for all of his 22 years and the men they chose instead.

The rampage played out largely as he sketched it in public postings. He said he would start by "silently killing as many people as I can around Isla Vista by luring them into my apartment through some form of trickery." He said he would knock them out with a hammer, and slit their throats.

On Sunday, the sheriff's office identified the final victims as Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, and George Chen, 19 -- both from San Jose -- and Weihan Wang, 20, of Fremont. Hong and Chen were listed on the lease as Rodger's roommates. Investigators were trying to determine whether Wang was a roommate or was visiting the apartment.

Around 9:30 p.m., the shooting rampage began and lasted about 10 minutes.

In the end, he shot and killed three others at random, and injured 13 more either with gunshots or the BMW that he used as a battering ram against bicyclists and skateboarders.

Deputies found three semi-automatic handguns along with 400 unspent rounds in the car. All were purchased legally.

___

Associated Press writer Oskar Garcia in Honolulu contributed to this report.







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Mythman wrote:
He would have killed his mom had he not been living in an apartment next to the campus. The deputies should have detained him as per the psychiatric hold and searched his room and his computer and I phone. The parents counted on the system to help them but the system failed. The cops had the killer in their sights but let him go.
on May 26,2014 | 06:32AM
mitt_grund wrote:
He obviously not only had a deep hatred of blonde, white girls who rejected him, but also a deep resentment for being a mixed race person. Appears he was part Chinese, had Chinese "friends", and probably blamed that half of him for his lack of sexual encounters with white girls. Had he settled for "less", he could have gotten to first base with almost any mixed race girl in Hawaii. But guess he was picky and preferred the "better" race. Note the first three he killed were Chinese males. A psycho through accident of birth. Case for restoring anti-miscegenation and anti-integration laws? No question of where you stand in an "apartheid" state. Right, Tea Party advocates?
on May 26,2014 | 10:18AM
st1d wrote:
" . . . per the psychiatric hold . . . "

there was no psychiatric hold in force in this incident.


on May 26,2014 | 11:49AM
Grimbold wrote:
The laws make it just too difficult to lock up psychos.
on May 26,2014 | 07:38AM
soundofreason wrote:
Yes...and no. If the police, who had reasonable justification, had done their job, he would not have written "He said he was relieved his apartment wasn't searched because deputies would have uncovered the cache of weapons he used in the rampage in Isla Vista."
on May 26,2014 | 08:10AM
st1d wrote:
with the minimal information from his parents, the police were reasonable to show up at his doorstep to inquire about his mental welfare.

however, the police lacked crucial probable cause to force an entry into his home to search for his cache of weapons.

in this case, the police did their job within the narrow confines of what is allowed in california's provisions that permit emergency psychiatric evaluations of individuals who pose a serious threat.


on May 26,2014 | 08:31AM
soundofreason wrote:
HAD they asked the question "Do you mind if we look around? " and he allowed them to, weapons might have been found. If he didn't allow them to, reason for alarm might have been elevated/pursued. So, what DIDN'T happen? They didn't ask the "lawful" question.
on May 26,2014 | 09:11AM
st1d wrote:
just because someone exercises the rights of privacy and protections from unlawful search does not escalate or raise alarms.

as no reports of weapons or hostages were made, there was no reason to ask to search the interior of the home. this was at most a normal mental health welfare check.


on May 26,2014 | 09:24AM
soundofreason wrote:
""Obviously, looking back on this, it's a very tragic situation and we certainly wish that we could turn the clock back and maybe change some things," Brown told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday."

They COULD have done things differently.


on May 26,2014 | 09:48AM
kekelaward wrote:
They always ask to look around. The worst that can happen is the resident says no. You'd be surprised how many people don't know their rights or just say yes.
on May 26,2014 | 09:56AM
Ripoff wrote:
Too many crazy ppl with guns!
on May 26,2014 | 07:53AM
kekelaward wrote:
And knives and cars...but you conveniently forgot about those other victims, didn't you. If that town wasn't basically a gun free zone, maybe a law abiding armed citizen could have put a stop to this sooner. And forget about the cops. They were absolutely no help in this situation, and possibly even a contributing factor (as the killer even mentions in his screed).
on May 26,2014 | 08:13AM
kekelaward wrote:
A total lack of parenting and personal responsibility. Intervention does not mean buying a kid a $40,000 car (which he ultimately used to murder innocents) in hopes that he'll "get better". These two Hollywood parents were never physically there for him. A rich 22 year old with a BMW playing the victim game? Please. And then for them to blame guns??? (He also used a car and knives). The father was an assistant director of the Hunger Games which all about teens killing other people. May blaming Hollywood culture and the product it puts out would be closer to the truth.
on May 26,2014 | 08:08AM
mauiday wrote:
Very tragic situation for all concerned. The mom at least did the right thing in a prompt and responsible manner. Perhaps the police need a special mental health/psych response team to access and address situations involving the mentally ill or unstable psychiatric patients. The 911 operator and regular patrol officers may not have enough experience and training to proper screen and address the potential for violence.
on May 26,2014 | 08:12AM
st1d wrote:
"the case highlights the challenges that police face in assessing the mental health of adults, particularly those with no history of violent breakdowns, institutionalizations or serious crimes."

the police are legally limited in the response to mental health checks as the article states. ex parte actions need to backed up with observable evidence at the time the action is taken. elliot rodger did not display any dangerous tendencies to the sheriffs at the time of their check on him.


on May 26,2014 | 08:56AM
mauiday wrote:
The article also states a key misstep: "Sheriff deputies .... weren't award of any videos". It appears that key information was either not collected by the police intake personnel. Or if the videos were passed on, (the videos that alerted the mother and counselor to contact police in the first place) were not properly evaluated by a trained police psychiatrist to determine a potentially explosive individual. Or if the videos were reviewed and found to be a red flag for violence, then the information was not passed on to the investigating patrol officer. It appeared that the investigating officers did not have the benefit of the information that the videos contained. Perhaps a trained police psychiatrist, armed with the clues that the videos exposed, would have asked different questions or evaluated the suspect with a keener eye and taken more proactive precautionary measures after confronting the suspect at his apartment. I just hope the police will learn from this tragedy (and many others like this one) and take proactive steps to address situations involving the mentally unstable with a potential for violence.
on May 26,2014 | 01:34PM
st1d wrote:
we'll see. the 911 calls are taped.

any reference to videos that were available to the police at the time of that call will be on the recording.

watching crimes solved on television shows give the public unrealistic expectations on the abilities of police to identify threats and legally neutralize them in real life situations.


on May 26,2014 | 01:55PM
mauiday wrote:
You seem to have a preset agenda to absolve the police of any responsibility or any avenues for improvement on their part in this tragedy. Yes it will be interesting to see if the 911 call will be made public. Then again, we may have erroneously assumed that the police were informed via a 911 call. It may be that the police were alerted through other channels that may have not been recorded . I hope it was recorded so an analysis can be made for improvement and prevention. Bottom line for me, these mass killings by unstable individuals appear to be happening more frequently. I would advocate for advances in police science in the area of the mentally ill and procedures to address this growing problem. Not make alibis and excuses for the police that nothing can be done and how unrealistic it is to expect the police to do more.
on May 26,2014 | 02:52PM
st1d wrote:
we'll see.
on May 26,2014 | 03:25PM
soundofreason wrote:
"In this case, the red flags were so big the killer's parents had called police ... and yet the system failed," she said.
on May 26,2014 | 09:56AM
cojef wrote:
The problem is that there are no procedures currently for the medical profession to notify law enforcement on impending conditions of patients with acute problems. In the last 3 years there is ample evidence that the psychiatrist treating the mass murderers in Sandy Hook, Colorado and other locations where their patients showed disturbing sign of committing mayhem, yet law enforcement was not notified. The police is not expected to determine when or who is a psycho on the verge of committing mayhem. On the other hand psychologist or other mental disease experts due doctor/patient confidentiality protocol have not aided the police. The mass murders on some of the past mass killings may or could have been averted if this connection was available.
on May 26,2014 | 03:44PM
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