Santa Barbara Rampage: A Closer Look



As the investigation of the Santa Barbara deadly rampage unfolds, a fair amount of information is emerging about the identified shooter, Elliot Rodger. There were concerns about his mental well-being prior to the incident:

Police went to Rodger’s apartment April 30 to conduct a wellness check after being contacted by members of Rodger’s family who were concerned about disturbing videos he had posted on YouTube. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said that deputies had reported back that Rodger was shy, polite and said the Santa Barbara community college student had been having a difficult social life.


An attorney for Rodger’s family said earlier Saturday that they believed Rodger had been the shooter and acknowledged that they had called police weeks before about disturbing YouTube videos concerning “regarding suicide and the killing of people.”

A transcript of the video is available here:,0,5166134.story

A very disturbing portion is as follows:

“I take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one, the true alpha male. [laughs] Yes, after I have annihilated every single girl in the sorority house, I’ll 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 while I’ve had to rot in loneliness all these years. They all look down upon me every time I tried to join them, they’ve all treated me like a mouse.

“Well, now I will be a god compared to you, you will all be animals, you are animals and I will slaughter you like animals. I’ll be a god exacting my retribution on all those who deserve it and you do deserve it just for the crime of living a better life than me.

The following “intervention” took place April 30, 2014:

So disturbed that someone from a mental health agency, after consulting with one of Rodger’s relatives, requested police check on his welfare April 30, Brown said.

Rodger’s family contacted police after discovering social media posts about suicide and killing people, family spokesman and attorney Alan Shifman told reporters Saturday.

Brown said Rodger told deputies it was a misunderstanding and that he was not going to hurt anyone or himself. Rodger said he was having troubles with his social life.

“He was articulate. He was polite. He was timid,” Brown told CNN on Sunday.

There was nothing in his behavior to suggest he was violent, and the deputies “determined he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold,” Brown said.

What I’m trying to examine at this point is what “intervention” if any took place after the police conducted a home welfare check. They are required to abide by the law, and it would appear that in their assessment Rodger “did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold.”

Putting legalities aside, had there been a search:

Rodger wrote that a wave of relief came over him when the deputies left. “If they had demanded to search my room … (t)hat would have ended everything. For a few horrible seconds I thought it was all over.”

There are indications that the “retribution” had been in the makings for some time.

A 140-page manifesto was discovered after the fact at Rodger’s home on Saturday. It is entitled, “My Twisted World” and is available here:

Some background information that is emerging about Rodger’s background:

He was diagnosed at an earlier age with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism meaning he had difficulties with social interaction.


Speaking from her home in Kent, Elliot’s grandmother, 89, explained that he had suffered mental health issues for some time.

She said: ‘He was a very disturbed boy. He lived in California but of course I’d known him. This is just one of those very tragic things.

Connection with The Hunger Games?

Some might think that because his father worked as an assistant director on The Hunger Games, which involves teens killing teens, that could have planted a seed in him to go on the rampage.

What was The Hunger Games about?

Hunger Games showed a teenage bloodbath.

Controversial film The Hunger Games contained violent scenes of teenager forced to fight to the death.

The release of The Hunger Games in 2012 caused a storm of protest from parents and psychologists who said the movie was too violent for youngsters.

The film depicts a totalitarian world in which teenagers are forced to kill each other in a gladiatorial-style contest.

It was initially given a 15 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification, but this was lowered to 12A after producers agreed to cuts.

This meant that children aged 12 and over could see it on their own, while younger children could go with an adult.

Some parents said children had become distressed watching the film, and experts said there was a danger that the violence depicted on the screen could become ‘hard-wired’ into young children’s brains.

At one point in the film, many of the contestants die in a bloodbath, while in another scene, a boy is mauled by a pack of mutated dogs before being shot in the head with an arrow.

The film also shows a girl of 12 being stabbed with a spear and another teenage girl’s skull being hit with a rock.


Were there so-called “missed chances?”

Family lawyer Alan Shifman called Rodger a “highly functional Asperger’s Syndrome child” who had received treatment from “multiple” professionals and said that the student’s parents had called police weeks ago to report online videos “regarding suicide and the killing of people.” Police followed up with a visit.

On Saturday, Sheriff Brown said that since July 2013 police had had “contacts” with Rodger on three occasions beforeFriday’s killings.

“He expressed to deputies he was having difficulties with his social life and would probably not be returning to school within the next year,” Sheriff Brown said, adding that police had determined that Rodger did not meet the criteria for them to hold him involuntarily on mental health grounds.

I am not aware at this time of the “treatment from multiple professionals.” I urge caution against a rush to judgment about cause effect and to what extent authorities and other individuals knew or should have known that Rodgers was a mass murder walking time bomb.

A topic near and dear to me, at my presentation at the Independent Practice Division of the New York State Psychological Association on May 15, 2014 entitled, Assessing Violence: Separating Fact From Fiction, I made the following introduction:

Violence permeates the news on a daily basis.

Psychologists increasingly are called upon to evaluate people in a variety of contexts to assess the risk of violence. At stake for psychologists are maintaining professional honesty consistent with the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology, abiding by the law, having a solid knowledge about risk assessment including the many limitations, and minimizing errors resulting from false negatives when evaluators conclude that examinees will not offend and subsequently do, and false positives, when they conclude that examinees will offend but do not.

Many myths and false perceptions are prevalent. Risk assessment requires navigating across a field of landmines.




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