The alleged gunman who killed seven people and wounded 13 others during a shooting rampage and single stabbing incident near UC Santa Barbara was identified by authorities on Saturday.
Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old Santa Barbara City College student, was identified as the gunman by Santa Barbara County Sheriff and Coroner Bill Brown at a Saturday news conference.
Sheriff’s investigators were “analyzing written and video evidence that suggests this atrocity was a pre-meditated mass murder” by a gunman who apparently acted alone, Brown said at an earlier news conference.
Deputies responded about 9:27 p.m. to the first of 10 crime scenes after callers reported gunfire in Isla Vista, a coastal community located just west of the college campus.
“All of a sudden, a bunch of people from outside just started running into the store and we were all just like, ‘Take cover, take cover,’” said a woman who witnessed one of the shootings.
The deputies found several victims suffering from gunshot wounds and were administering first aid to the injured when, minutes later, there were additional reports of shots fired at several other locations in the area, Brown said. Meanwhile, a description of the suspect’s vehicle, a black BMW, was broadcast to local law enforcement.
One witness said she was approached by the gunman during the rampage.
“I turned around and started walking the other way,” Sienna Schwartz said in a voice choked with emotion. “He shot and I felt … I just felt the wind passing right by my face.”
At about 9:33 p.m., the gunman encountered a group of deputies and began shooting; he fled in his car after the deputies returned fire, according to authorities.
A deputy spotted the suspect seconds later and another exchange of gunfire occurred, after which the gunman drove his vehicle down Del Playa Drive (map) and eventually crashed into a parked car, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies approached the BMW and found the suspect dead from an apparent gunshot wound to the head, Brown said. It was not immediately known if the gunman took his own life or was shot by a deputy.
Three guns were located inside the vehicle, Brown said.
Three UCSB students were shot and killed during the incident: Veronika Weiss, 19, Katie Cooper, 22, and Chris Martinez, 20.
Deputies originally reported nine crime scenes before discovering three people had been stabbed to death inside Rodger’s residence in the 6500 block of Seville Road (map).
The victims appeared to have been stabbed with sharp objects prior to the shooting rampage, Brown said. Their identities had not been released as of Saturday.
Seven victims were initially reported to have been hospitalized after the incident, and were being treated for gunshot wounds or traumatic injuries. At least one of the injured has undergone surgery, authorities said.
In a statement released Saturday morning, University of California President Janet Napolitano said she was “shocked and deeply saddened” by news of the shooting.
“While details on the shooting are scarce and families are still being notified, the campus is already taking steps in response,” Napolitano said. “University officials have set up a room for families who are coming to campus, and are making counseling services available to any students, faculty and staff who need our support.”
Emergency housing has been set up for misplaced students, UC Santa Barbara said in a statement, and a call center was established at 805-893-3901 for community members and parents with questions.
Counselors would be available 24 hours a day at 805-893-4411, according to letter from UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang.
“The flag on our campus will be at half-staff this week to honor those whose lives were so suddenly and tragically cut short. We will be in touch as we continue to respond to these events. Our UCSB family is in mourning,” Yang stated.
A multi-agency investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 805-681-4171.
KTLA’s John A. Moreno and Ashley Soley-Cerro contributed to this report.