A small crowd gathered in Little Acorn Park on Sabado Tarde Road yesterday to pay their respects to the victims of the David Attias’ 2001 vehicular rampage.
On the night of February 23, 2001, first-year student David Attias plowed his car down Sabado Tarde at speeds topping 65 miles an hour. Attias, who was later convicted of second-degree murder, killed four pedestrians and critically injured another.
Referred to as the “Isla Vista massacre” by the media, the incident was the most violent attack the student community has ever seen. Though few current students were in the community at the time of the attack, for long-term residents and law-enforcement officials who witnessed it, the memory remains a haunting period of the beach town’s modern history.
Officer Valenti of the California Highway Patrol was one of the first law enforcement officials on the scene on the night of the murders.
“The [community] response was shock,” Valenti recalled. “The scene was an absolute war zone; it was a horrifying and traumatic situation that affected everyone involved.”
In addition to responding to emergency phone calls from the scene, Valenti witnessed much of the jury trial that played out in the subsequent months, which ultimately resulted in Attias being sentenced to treatment at a state mental health facility.
“The jury found him guilty of second-degree murder, and agreed that he was insane at the time of the violence,” Valenti said, adding that they had deemed his behavior was unrelated to the drugs he had in his system at the time of the crime. “He was only under the influence of marijuana and lidocaine, a topical anesthetic.”
Attias currently remains a ward of the state, serving time in Patton State Hospital.