Elliot Rodger’s family tried to intervene before his deadly rampage

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GOLETA, Calif. (AP) — 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.


PHOTOS: Killer's family tried to intervene before rampage


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.

Images of Christopher Martinez are displayed as part of a memorial in front of the IV Deli Mart, where part of Friday night's mass shooting took place, on Sunday, May 25, 2014, in the Isla Vista beach community of Santa Barbara, Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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Images of Christopher Martinez are displayed as part of a memorial in ... more >

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.

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