The parents of a British-born gunman raced to stop his rampage moments after being sent a chilling 140-page “manifesto” entitled “Day of Retribution” from their son, it has emerged.
But as Elliot Rodger’s estranged mother and father drove to the scene near a university in Santa Barbara, California, they heard news of a shooting on the radio. They later learned their 22-year-old son had killed six people and wounded 13 then took his own life.
As hundreds gathered at a memorial service in the college town of Isla Vista to mourn the dead, the three remaining victims were named as Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, George Chen, 19, and Weihan Wang, 20. They had been stabbed in Rodger’s apartment, his first victims. He went on to kill Katherine Cooper, 22, Veronika Weiss, 19, and Christopher Martinez, 20.
In an emotional statement, father Ricardo Martinez said the death of his son Christopher had left his family “lost and broken”, and he blamed “craven politicians” and gun-rights advocates.
Rodger died after speeding through the town in his black BMW and exchanging gunfire with police. He was found dead in his car from a gunshot wound to the head.
Minutes before he opened fire, Rodger e-mailed his parents, therapist and others to inform them of his intentions in the lengthy “manifesto”.
According to family friend Simon Astaire, his mother Li Chin called the police before she and ex-husband Peter Rodger, a Hollywood film director, raced to Isla Vista from Los Angeles in separate cars, but heard en route about the shooting.
Elliot Rodger had seen therapists off and on since he was nine years old and possessed “an underlying sadness”, Mr Astaire said.
In a video posted on YouTube, Rodger had spoken of his plan to “slaughter” women at a sorority house at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He described the rejection he felt because he had never been able to attract girls, and how he intended to exact revenge.
Santa Barbara County sheriff Bill Brown said his department had visited Rodger at the end of April at the request of his family when they saw disturbing videos he recorded, but officers found him to be polite and courteous and no further action was taken.
In his manifesto, he said he feared police would foil his plot when they visited him.
He wrote: “I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it.
“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.
“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.”
The sheriff’s office said they were “not aware of any videos until after the shooting rampage occurred”.
Sheriff Bill Brown has defended the investigating officers’ actions, adding: “Obviously, it’s a very tragic situation and we certainly wish that we could turn the clock back and maybe change some things.
“At the time deputies interacted with him, he was able to convince them that he was OK.”
Rodger had posted at least 22 YouTube videos. He voices his contempt for everyone, reserving special hate for two groups – the women he says kept him a virgin for his 22 years and the men they chose instead.