US massacre: Kiwi caught in killer's deadly rampage

By Harrison Christian, AP -
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Officers failed to find the writings and legally purchased guns of filmmaker’s son.

Elliot Rodger (inset) posted a Youtube video calmly explaining how he intended to gun down young women - which is exactly what he did. Photo / AP
Elliot Rodger (inset) posted a Youtube video calmly explaining how he intended to gun down young women - which is exactly what he did. Photo / AP

A New Zealand woman has been caught in the middle of a murderous rampage in the US that claimed six lives and left her neighbour with gunshot wounds.

Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a killing spree near the campus of the University of California, Isla Vista Santa Barbara on Friday night.

He'd stabbed three people to death in his apartment before fatally shooting three others elsewhere.

Read more of the Herald's coverage of the Santa Barbara massacre:
Gunman's father assistant director on Hunger Games

He then crashed his BMW with a fatal gunshot to the head.

Hawke's Bay woman Amelia Lyons, 22, was walking home from work when Rodger left his apartment ahead of his rampage.

Ms Lyons told reporters she was walking home after work on the night of the shooting when a police officer came "blazing past," running down the road with his gun out, and said "get inside, take cover, there's a shooter".

She ran home and when she came outside again 10 minutes later, the streets were full of police with large semi automatic rifles and handguns. "Obviously it was very freaky," she said.

"My neighbour was actually shot. It's crazy that it happens on your doorstep - hard to believe that this sort of stuff goes on.

"It's very sombre here now. In this bright, upbeat town everyone's been calling their parents reassuring them they're okay."

She described Isla Vista as a sunny, upbeat town, where young students looked forward to a bright future.

"This kind of thing does not happen [here]."

Amelia's brother, Tom Lyons, last night told Hawke's Bay Today his sister was "doing good" after the terrifying ordeal.

"She got pulled into a random house.

"When she got back to her house she realised her neighbour had been shot," Mr Lyons said.

Police missed chance to stop killer

Sheriff Bill Brown called it a "chaotic, rapidly unfolding convoluted incident" that involved multiple crime scenes. Seven people remained in hospital with serious injuries.

Police described how Rodger went from one location to another near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, firing for 10 minutes on random people. Brown said he had three legally purchased guns and more than 400 rounds of unspent ammunition in his car.

Video

The rampage mirrored threats made on a YouTube video posted on Saturday, authorities said. They were analysing the video in which Rodger sits in a car and looks at the camera, laughing often, and says he is going to take his revenge against humanity.

He describes loneliness and frustration because "girls have never been attracted to me," and says he is still a virgin. The video, which is almost seven minutes long, appears scripted.

"I'll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you," Rodger says. "You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one, the true alpha male."

He declared: "I will kill every single blonde I see" and blamed women for throwing themselves at "obnoxious brutes" but rejecting him, the "supreme gentleman".

The video was taken down yesterday with a message saying it violated the site's terms of service.

"It's obviously the work of a madman," Brown said.

Earlier, Alan Shifman - a lawyer who represents Peter Rodger, one of the assistant directors on The Hunger Games - issued a statement saying his client believed his son, Elliot Rodger, was the shooter. It was unclear how the son would have obtained a gun. The family is "staunchly against guns" and supports gun-control laws, Shifman said.

The lawyer said the family called police several weeks ago after being alarmed by YouTube videos "regarding suicide and the killing of people" that Elliot Rodger had been posting.

Police interviewed Elliot Rodger and found him to be a "perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human", Shifman added. Police did not find a history of guns, but did say Rodger had trouble making friends and didn't have any girlfriends.

Rodger wrote in a 141-page document how he narrowly missed being found out when the officers knocked on his door. The officers left after determining he didn't need to be locked up for mental health reasons.

Rodger expressed relief that his apartment wasn't searched because they would have found his weapons and his writings.

Rodger, who was born in London and moved to America at the age of 5, was photographed two years ago on the red carpet for the premiere of The Hunger Games, accompanied by his father.

Witnesses told how the gunman drew up and spoke to passersby before picking off targets. Some students had been celebrating end-of-year graduation ceremonies a few hours earlier.

Alexander Mattera, 23, said his friend Chris Johnson was walking out of a comedy show when he was shot and stumbled into a nearby house.

"He walked into these random guys' house bleeding," he said.

Mattera was sitting at a bonfire with friends when at least one gunshot whizzed overhead. The friends ran for cover.

"We heard so many gunshots. It was unbelievable. I thought they were firecrackers. There had to have been at least like two guns.

"There were a lot of shots," he said.

Kyley Scarlet said she heard the BMW smash to a halt outside a house she was in. She said two women next door were killed on the lawn and a third was wounded.

"When I saw that video, I was shaking and crying," she said.

Blood was still visible on the street yesterday. The wrecked BMW remained, its windshield smashed in and its driver's door wide open.

"This is almost the kind of event that's impossible to prevent and almost impossible to predict," University of California president Janet Napolitano, a former Secretary of Homeland Security, said.

"My client's mission in life will be to try to prevent any such tragedies from ever happening again," Shifman said.

"This country, this world, needs to address mental illness and the ramifications from not recognising these illnesses."

Rodger grew up surrounded by the trappings of privilege and affluence in California after his father emigrated from Britain in 1996.

His stepmother is the actress Soumaya Akaaboune, who appeared in Green Zone in 2010 with Matt Damon and also stars in a French language version of The Real Housewives reality television series.

His late grandfather, William Rodger, was a renowned British war photographer who was the first to capture on film the horrors of the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in 1945 and helped found the Magnum picture agency.

In his video Elliot Rodger says: "College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure.

"But in those years I've had to rot in loneliness.

"It's not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me.

"But I will punish you all for it. I'll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you.

"You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one. The true alpha male. Yes ... After I have annihilated every single girl in the sorority house I will take to the streets of Isla Vista and slay every single person I see there.

"All those popular kids who live such lives of hedonistic pleasure."

His online writings also disclose the full extent of his anger and warped misogynist views.

He was a regular poster to an online message board called PUAhate (for self-styled haters of "pickup artists") in which male participants express anger at what they call the "seduction community" and their failure to meet women.

In his personal blog, he also discussed his frustrations with his life.

"Being lonely in a beautiful place like Santa Barbara is truly a horrible experience," he wrote.

"As I've said many times, a beautiful environment can be the darkest hell if you have to experience it all alone, especially while having to watch other men walking around with their girlfriends. I wish girls were attracted to me. I don't know why they aren't."

Complaining about the "obnoxious people" that he had met at college in Santa Barbara, he added: "I consider myself a sophisticated, polite gentleman, unlike most boys my age".

He said his likes included hiking, exercising, watching sunsets, travel, cars and fashion.

His Facebook page illustrated his taste for the expensive things in life.

Several pictures showed him driving his BMW and he listed luxury clothes and vehicle manufacturers such as Bentley and Aston Martin as his "likes".

Campus killings

Some of the worst shootings on or near US campuses in recent years:
June 7, 2013: Five people are killed and several are wounded when John Zawahri, 23, shoots his father and brother and then shoots at strangers in cars at Santa Monica College in California. Zawahri is fatally shot by officers in the college library.
April 2, 2012: Seven people are killed and three are injured when a 43-year-old former student opens fire at a tiny Christian school, Oikos University, in California. One Goh was charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder but is being held at a mental hospital after psychiatric evaluations concluded that he suffers from long-term paranoid schizophrenia and is unfit to stand trial.
Feb 14, 2008: Five students are killed and 18 are wounded when former student Steven Kazmierczak, 27, opens fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University before killing himself.
Feb 8, 2008: Two people are killed when Latina Williams, 23, opens fire during an emergency medical technology class at Louisiana Technical College in Louisiana before shooting herself.

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