GOLETA, Calif. (AP) — The gunman fired for 10 minutes from his BMW as he made his way down streets filled with university students walking, biking and skateboarding in the beach community near Santa Barbara, picking off people one by one in a deadly rampage that chillingly mirrored threats made on a YouTube video posted that same night. Seven people were killed in all, including the gunman.
A Hollywood director believes his son was the lone gunman found dead behind the wheel of the BMW that crashed into a parked car, ending the shootings Friday night in the beach neighborhood of Isla Vista near the University of California, Santa Barbara, the family’s lawyer said Saturday. Seven others remained hospitalized with serious injuries.
Authorities were not naming the shooter yet but said they had identified him. Investigators were analyzing a YouTube video in which a young man sits in a car and looks at the camera, laughing often, and says he is going to take his revenge against humanity.
“It’s obviously the work of a madman,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.
Alan Shifman — a lawyer who represents Peter Rodger, one of the assistant directors on “The Hunger Games” — issued a statement on behalf of the family saying they believe Rodger’s son, Elliot Rodger, was the shooter.
“The Rodger family offers their deepest compassion and sympathy to the families involved in this terrible tragedy. We are experiencing the most inconceivable pain, and our hearts go out to everybody involved,” Shifman said.
The shootings started around 9:30 p.m. in Isla Vista, a roughly half-square-mile community next to UC Santa Barbara’s campus and picturesque beachside cliffs.
Alexander Mattera, 23, said his friend Chris Johnson was walking out of an improv comedy show when he was shot in front of a popular pizza place. He stumbled into a nearby house.
“He walked into these random guys’ house bleeding,” he said.
Mattera was sitting at a bonfire with friends when at least one gunshot whizzed overhead. The friends ran for cover when they heard the barrage of gunfire.
“We heard so many gunshots. It was unbelievable. I thought they were firecrackers. There had to have been at least like two guns. There were a lot of shots,” he said.
The gunman got into two gun battles before crashing his black BMW into a parked car. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he was killed by gunfire or if he committed suicide. A semi-automatic handgun was recovered.
Describing the shootings as “premeditated mass murder,” Brown said a YouTube video posted Friday that shows a young man describing plans to shoot women appears to be connected to the attack.
He describes loneliness and frustration because “girls have never been attracted to me,” and says, at age 22, he is still a virgin. The video, which is almost seven minutes long, appears scripted. The identity of the person in the video could not be independently confirmed.
Shifman, the attorney for the Rodger family, said the family called police several weeks ago after being alarmed by YouTube videos “regarding suicide and the killing of people” that Rodger’s son, Elliot Rodger, had been posting.
Police interviewed Elliot Rodger and found him to be a “perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human,” he added. Police did not find a history of guns, but did say Rodger “didn’t have a lot of friends,” had trouble making friends and didn’t have any girlfriends.
Isla Vista, which is centered on university life with outdoor cafes, bike shops, burger joints, sororities and fraternities blocks from the beach, was shrouded in fog and unusually quiet Saturday.
Police tape crisscrossed Isla Vista streets, while blood was still visible on the asphalt Saturday. Bullet holes could be seen in the window of the IV Deli Mark and a parked car. The wrecked BMW driven by the shooter remained on the street, its windshield smashed in and its driver’s door wide open.
Tyler Martin, a UCSB freshman from Danville, California, was visiting his injured friend at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where the seven victims were being treated.
He said two friends were riding longboards near his home about 9:30 p.m. when a car suddenly came up from behind and ran over one and clipped the other. Martin ran outside to help and tended to his most injured friend.
“As I was leaning over and trying to comfort him — he was in a lot of pain, obviously — I heard pop, pop, pop,” Martin said.
The friend who was run over suffered leg injuries and was in surgery Saturday. The other friend was not seriously hurt.
In a statement, the university said several students were shot and taken to the hospital and it was “shocked and saddened” by the tragedy.
“This is almost the kind of event that’s impossible to prevent and almost impossible to predict,” UC President Janet Napolitano told reporters after giving the commencement speech at Laney College in Oakland, California.
Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown offered his condolences to the victims’ families, saying he was saddened to learn “of this senseless tragedy.”
The family is not ready to speak publicly yet, but wants to cooperate fully with police, public agencies and “any other person who feels that they need to help prevent these situations from ever occurring again,” Shifman said.
“My client’s mission in life will be to try to prevent any such tragedies from ever happening again,” he said. “This country, this world, needs to address mental illness and the ramifications from not recognizing these illnesses.”
Shifman said the family is “staunchly against guns” and supports gun-control laws. “They are extremely, extremely upset that anybody was hurt under these circumstances,” he said.
Isla Vista has a reputation for excessive partying. Last month, an annual spring bash spiraled into violence as young people clashed with police and tossed rocks and bottles. A university police officer and four deputies were injured and 130 people were arrested.
The community has experienced other tragedies in the past.
In 2001, the son of “Ally McBeal” TV director Daniel Attias ran down four pedestrians with his car on a crowded Isla Vista street. Witnesses testified that part-time college student David Attias got of the car and shouted: “I am the angel of death.”
David Attias was ruled insane after he was convicted of second-degree murder and is locked up in a state mental hospital.
Dillon and Mendoza reported from Goleta, California, and Watson reported from San Diego. Associated Press writers Alicia Chang and Gillian Flaccus contributed from Los Angeles, and Frank Baker from Santa Barbara.