On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s (DA) Office stated law enforcement officers involved in the events of May 23 last year acted lawfully and in self defense during the gunfire exchange with suspect Elliot Rodger.
Six UC Santa Barbara students were killed and 14 others injured in the shooting last year. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff Department’s investigation report concluded that Rodger engaged in two separate gunfire incidents with officers before he fatally shot himself. The report states Santa Barbara Sheriff Sergeant Brad Welch, Detective Brian Flick and deputies Adrian Marquez and Jorden Walker acted “in defense of others” and “in an attempt to arrest a dangerous felon.”
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover said the DA’s report found the police took proper action given the circumstances.
“The report validates our agency’s belief that the deputies acted lawfully and properly,” Hoover said in an email. “We are grateful for the swift and resolute actions taken by our deputies which we believe saved the lives of many others.”
Hoover said the deputies fired their guns at the suspect to prevent him from hurting more people.
“The deputies were fired upon by a suspect who had already killed several people,” Hoover said in an email. “Their aim was to stop him, and by firing upon him, they accomplished that.”
The report states the first officer-involved gunfire battle occurred at 9:32 p.m. at 6550 Del Playa Drive when Marquez returned one round after Rodger shot multiple rounds at Marquez from Rodger’s black BMW.
“As the BMW quickly sped by westbound, Deputy Marquez fired one shot at the vehicle,” the report reads. “He was not able to determine if he hit the suspect. The forensic investigation later determined that his round hit the right side of the suspect vehicle.”
According to the report, the second gun battle involved officers Welch, Flick, Walker and Johnson at Little Acorn Park. The officers fired numerous shots at Rodger and grazed his hip.
“Fearing for their lives and the lives of their fellow deputies, and in an attempt to apprehend the suspect who had just killed at least three people and wounded dozens of others, Sgt. Welch, Detective Flick, and Deputy Walker fired at the vehicle,” the report reads. “Rounds hit the vehicle several times on the left side and rear, with only one confirmed round entering the vehicle.”
Fourth-year economics and sociology double major Siavash Zohoori said he was riding his bike by the 7-Eleven when Rodger shot two of the bikers in front of him.
“The whole time I kind of thought it was a gang shooting,” Zohoori said.
Zohoori said one of the law enforcement officers fulfilled his duty by immediately running into the 7-Eleven where Zohoori was hiding after the bikers nearby him were shot by Rodger.
“That was the most comforting and best thing in the world,” Zohoori said. “I think their actions that night served their purpose as officers to serve and protect. I’m really happy to say that they served and acted lawfully.”
The report states the officers found Rodger in his BMW on Del Playa Drive with a through-and-through self-inflicted gunshot wound to his right temple.
“Approximately one minute after the shooting in Little Acorn Park, the suspect vehicle crashed and the suspect shot himself in the head,” the report reads.
The DA report states had it not been for the officers’ actions the night of May 23 last year many more lives would have been lost and the file on the investigation of the officer-involved shootings is now closed.