Deadly Rampage

May 27, 2014

Six students at the University of California at Santa Barbara were killed by a man who went on a rampage Friday night. Authorities have identified the killer, who left various video and written manifestos saying that he was seeking to kill sorority women and others at the university as revenge for the way women had rejected him. The killer -- who subsequently shot himself -- has been identified as a student who enrolled but frequently dropped out of classes at Santa Barbara City College.

"We are horrified and deeply saddened by the tragic events in Isla Vista last night....  We grieve for the precious lives lost, and we share in the heartbreak of their families, friends, and classmates," said a letter released Saturday by Henry T. Yang, chancellor of the university.

Initially, police confirmed three deaths of UCSB students -- two women who were shot and killed on the lawn of Alpha Phi sorority, and a male who was shot in a convenience store. On Sunday, the university confirmed that three other male students found stabbed to death in the killer's apartment were also UCSB students. Two of them reportedly were on the lease for the apartment with the student who killed them.

College Leaders and Gun Control

Last year, after the tragic killings in Newtown, Connecticut, the Association of American Universities and College Presidents for Gun Safety issued letters calling for, among other things, gun control. While many presidents signed the letters, others declined to do so, prompting debate at some campuses.

Students and family members held vigils Saturday night and took to social media to mourn. An instructor of Veronika Weiss, one of the students killed, wrote on a Facebook page created in her memory: "I am the instructor for CMPSC 8, a course in which Veronika is enrolled this quarter. I use the 'present tense' because even though she is deceased, she still appears on my roster of students, even now. In a class of 152 students, she was a standout as someone engaged, confident, capable, eager to learn, and willing to work hard....  Please think of her family and friends... And her teachers."

The assailant has been identified as Elliot Rodger. A statement from Santa Barbara City College said: "According to our information, Rodger had registered at Santa Barbara City College at various times during the last three years but had either stopped attending or withdrew from all courses. Before that, in 2011, he completed three courses. The college has not located any record of discipline or other issues." (Press reports indicate that his parents had previously reported to police their concerns about his videos.)

According to authorities, Rodger killed three people in his apartment before driving around Isla Vista (an area adjacent to UCSB) shooting people. Authorities said that he knocked on the door of the sorority house and there was no answer and that he then shot three women who were on the lawn. One of them survived.

Rodger posted a video on YouTube prior to the killings. In it, he outlined what he was going to do and said that the women deserved it for rejecting him. The Los Angeles Times published a transcript of the video. "On the day of retribution, I am going to enter the hottest sorority house at UCSB and I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see inside there. All those girls I've desired so much. They have all rejected me and looked down on me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance toward them, while they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes," the video says. "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."

This is the video:

On Sunday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan issued this statement on the events in California: "My thoughts are with the community around the University of California, Santa Barbara, as it mourns the students killed in this senseless tragedy and keeps vigil with those who were injured. Instead of celebrating the end of the semester and the upcoming commencement ceremony, the campus is grieving. My heart particularly goes out to the families affected by the shooting, who sent their children to college expecting they would return home safely. Gun violence has no place anywhere, least of all at our nation's schools and college campuses, and we must do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands and increase access to mental health services."

Support at Santa Barbara

While many colleges and universities have finished their academic years, UCSB operates on a quarter system and the spring quarter is nearing its completion. Monday was already scheduled as a day off for Memorial Day and the university has canceled classes for today and will hold a memorial service. The university is asking all faculty members to come to campus, however, to meet with students and to provide support.

The university also announced extra counseling hours, and that it would provide guidance and alternatives for any who may have difficulty finishing their courses because of the killings.

"We wish to reiterate the message from the undergraduate deans that academic advisors are available to assist students who are concerned that this tragedy will interfere with the completion of their courses. Our dedicated advisers will do everything they can to ensure that no student’s academic record is adversely affected by this difficult situation," said a message from the chancellor.

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