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Witnesses Share Accounts of Tragedy in Isla Vista



Law enforcement removes a dead body from the apartment of Elliot Rodgers late Saturday afternoon. Rodgers stabbed three victims in his building before murdering another three and injuring 13 in drive-by shootings. (Kenneth Song / Daily Nexus)

Law enforcement removes a dead body from the apartment of Elliot Rodgers late Saturday afternoon. Rodgers stabbed three victims in his building before murdering another three and injuring 13 in drive-by shootings. (Kenneth Song / Daily Nexus)

Santa Barbara City College student Elliot Rodger killed six people Friday night in Isla Vista, including three victims he stabbed to death inside his apartment and another three he shot to death during a 10-minute shooting spree that ran through 12 crime scenes.

County Sheriff Bill Brown has confirmed the identities of three victims at a press conference on Saturday, all of whom were UCSB students, including fourth-year student Katie Cooper, first-year student Veronika Weiss and second-year student Christopher Ross Michael-Martinez. All three were killed from gunshot wounds. The identities of the stabbing victims have not been released.

Trauma Director for the Cottage Health System Stephen Kaminsky said there was a total of 13 injured people, with seven patients remaining in Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, two suffering from serious injuries. Four have been treated and released from Goleta Valley College Hospital.

Four of the injured victims were wounded by Rodger’s vehicle, a black BMW he drove throughout the shooting spree, gunshot wounds injured eight, and one additional injury’s cause has yet to be determined. Rodger died from a gunshot wound to the head, though police could not confirm whether it was self-inflicted or cause by deputies who were firing upon the vehicle.

The son of The Hunger Games Assistant Director Peter Rodger, Elliot Rodger committed the homicides with three 9mm semiautomatic handguns that were all purchased legally and registered under his name, according to Brown.

Sherriff’s deputies received a call about shots being fired around 9:27 p.m. on Friday night. Brown said law enforcement later learned that this call came after Rodger had already stabbed three people to death inside his apartment on the 6500 block of Seville Road.

Afterward, he drove to the Alpha Phi sorority house at 840 Embarcadero Del Norte. From inside the house, several members of the sorority heard “loud and aggressive knocking,” according to Brown, but did not open the door.

After failing to enter the residence, Rodger then shot at three women who were standing near the house, killing Tri Delta sorority members Cooper and Weiss, and injuring the third with multiple gunshot wounds.

A letter left Saturday alongside long-stemmed roses on the lawn of the Alpha Phi sorority house, where Rodger claimed his first two victims. (Erika Martin / Daily Nexus)

A letter left Saturday alongside long-stemmed roses on the lawn of the Alpha Phi sorority house, where Rodger claimed his first two victims. (Erika Martin / Pacific Coast Business Times)

He then drove to IV Deli Mart on Pardall Road and shot and killed Martinez, who was standing inside the store, from inside his vehicle, according to the store’s owner Michael Hassan, who was not working the night of the incident but received calls from the manager on duty.

“He told me there was a drive-by shooting. So we got two hits through the glass and one person was dead,” Hassan said.

After shooting and killing Martinez, Rodger continued to unload multiple rounds of gunfire, Hassan said.

“They heard two shots and everybody went down,” he said. “He shot several times after those two — probably around four or five more — and of course, we called 9-1-1 right away and it went from there.”

Blood spattered across the floor of IV Deli Mart. The store had recently relocated to a new space at the beginning of April. (John Clow / Daily Nexus)

Blood spattered across the floor of IV Deli Mart. The store had recently relocated to a new space at the beginning of April. (John Clow / Daily Nexus)

After driving away from the Pardall Road convenience store, Rodger proceeded to drive down the Embarcadero del Norte loop past the 7-11 convenience store at the intersection of El Embarcadero and Embarcadero Del Norte, and fired multiple rounds of gunfire at two people walking along the sidewalk, Brown said.

Brown said Rodger then drove toward the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive and brandished a handgun at a female victim standing at the corner of the street. The incident corroborates with the eyewitness account of Sierra Swartz, a Santa Barbara City College sophomore who was shot at, but not hit, during the mass murder. As she was walking down the street, coming from Del Playa, Swartz was approached by the suspect’s vehicle and shot at.

“He was like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ but I just kept walking, and he pulled a little black gun at me and he shot. So I turned around to where my friend was at, and I started walking faster,” Swartz said. “I didn’t realize it was an actual gun…then he shot again, so I started running. He shot two more times as I was running. So I ran into this random person’s house and hid in there.”

Swartz’s boyfriend, Brad Martin, a fourth-year anthropology major at UCSB, was attempting to climb a wall between the 6500 blocks of Del Playa and Sabado Tarde to get to his girlfriend the night of the incident. He said Swartz was walking to his house when she was approached by the suspect’s vehicle and nearly hit with the shots fired from Rodger’s weapon.

“He raised it up to her face … and she turned around and started running. That’s when she heard ‘bang-bang-bang’ right behind her, as she was running,” Martin said. “And she could feel the wind hitting her hair from the power of the gunshot, from less than five feet away from the car.”

The areas where Rodger carried out the massacre remained active crime scenes throughout the day on Saturday. (John Clow / Daily Nexus)

The areas where Rodger carried out the massacre remained active crime scenes throughout the day on Saturday. (John Clow / Daily Nexus)

According to Brown, Rodger then drove down the 6600 block of Del Playa Drive, before later turning onto the 6600 block of Sabado Tarde. Rodger continued driving, fired multiple times and then shot another victim at the intersection of Camino Pescadero and Sabado Tarde. Fourth-year biology major Arun Sengupta said he heard gunshots that “sounded like firecrackers,” and shortly after he saw what appeared to be Rodger speeding down the street.

“We saw him like two minutes later. I was walking down Sabado on the 6600 block when he came driving down Sabado, trying to run people over,” Sengupta said. “He was aiming for me because I was the first one in his view in the street. He missed me but hit everyone behind me.”

According to Sengupta, the vehicle hit two bikers, leaving one in more serious condition.

“One of them, I helped. He had some minor cuts and was alright, but the other one was fucked up,” Sengupta said. “He got ran over. I don’t know what happened to him.”

As the suspect plowed through victims and cars along the street, according to Sengupta, he drove with his head ducked and his car swerving erratically.

“I was looking at the driver in the eyes the whole time he was trying to hit people,” Sengupta said. “He had his head down near the steering wheel and was trying to duck, while he was hitting people and cars and swerving.”

Soon after, according to Brown, Rodger came into contact with four deputies who were running from across Little Acorn Park. He fired at the police officers. After deputies shot back at Rodger, wounding him in the left hip area, he drove down El Embarcadero, shooting a bicyclist before heading toward Del Playa again.

Gurprakash Singh, a 7-11 employee working at the store that night, said he and a co-worker saw the bicyclist victim standing outside the store with a gunshot wound to her leg. As a crowd of people ran toward the store and screamed for help, Singh saw the victim crying for help. Along with his co-worker, Singh helped her into the store, giving her water and a stool to sit on, as he wrapped a towel around her leg.

“She was still scared and crying, and we helped her to the restroom, and by then, more people had gathered, saying they were in danger and scared,” he said.

Santa Barbar County Sheriff Bill Brown at Saturday's press conference. (Kenneth Song / Daily Nexus)

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown at Saturday’s press conference. (Kenneth Song / Daily Nexus)

Rodger continued toward Del Playa Drive and again turned right onto the street, driving down the 6500 block in the opposite direction of campus. This time, the vehicle sharply accelerated, crashing into a parked car. Officers removed Rodger, who was dead from a gunshot would to the head, from the BMW and handcuffed him, according to Brown.

Leaving the scene of the crash that night, fourth-year political science major Niklas Svennefiord said he saw the suspect flee from police, as he watched from inside his home on the 6500 block of Del Playa. The suspect, a man in a white shirt, crashed into a nearby black Jeep, he said.

“I heard a couple gunfire shots. I thought they were fireworks, so I didn’t think about it, but I was pretty startled and then I heard a car hit another car. So I look up into my little window that’s in my shower, and I see a guy try to flee and the cops shoot him,” Svennefiord said.

Law enforcement remove Elliot Rodger's black BMW from Del Playa Drive Saturday afternoon. Rodger collided with a parked vehicle after slaughtering six individuals.  (John Clow / Daily Nexus)

Law enforcement remove Elliot Rodger’s black BMW from Del Playa Drive Saturday afternoon. Rodger collided with a parked vehicle after slaying six individuals. (John Clow / Daily Nexus)

Svennefiord, who also said that night that he believes one of his best friends was killed, said the suspect then continued to flee from police.

“I see a guy try to flee out of the car and the cop shoots him and then runs up to the car, seriously, and runs up to the car, looks into the car and the guy tries rolling around, and the cop kind of kicked him to make sure he was down,” Svennefiord said.

A man who said he was neighbors with Rodger, but would not release his name, said Rodger was “closed off” and “didn’t ever want to do anything.” After coming home bloody-faced one night after a fight, the neighbor spoke with Rodger and tried to console him. He said Rodger seemed calm by the end of it, but not before leaving behind some fateful words.

“So I went to bed, but the words that stuck out clearly was when he said, ‘I’m going to kill all those mother fuckers. I’m going to go and kill all of them and then kill myself.’”

— Peter Mounteer, Jimmy Chang, David Jackson and Aditya Tadanki contributed to this report

[Update: This article has been revised to include that two individuals who were shot and killed near Alpha Phi were Tri Delta members and that a third victim was injured with multiple gunshot wounds. The original number of 12 locations has also been corrected to 12 crime scenes.]

 

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2 Responses to Witnesses Share Accounts of Tragedy in Isla Vista

  1. Jade Reply

    May 27, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I appreciate the level of detail. Thank you.

  2. Mateo Reply

    May 26, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    wow

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