Are you listening?
Elliot Oliver Robertson Rodger, by his own account, “started out as a happy and blissful child, living [my] life to the fullest“. It wasn’t until puberty hit and sexual desire came calling that his world suddenly nose-dived into a world of pain and incredible angst that inevitably culminated in a bloody rampage with up to 12 different crime scenes, resulting in 7 deaths (including his own) and leaving more than a dozen people injured in Isla Vista, California near the UC Santa Barbara campus where 22-year-old Elliot was an on-again off-again student at Santa Barbara City College.
More than 13-minutes before Elliot opened fire outside of a sorority house — and before it was known he had already stabbed and killed three men, his concerned therapist contacted Elliot’s mother Lichin Rodgers. The therapist had received an extensive and detailed email from Elliot that will from here on be known as his “manifesto” although it is really a manuscript; an autobiographical accounting of his life called, “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger.”
After speaking with the therapist, Lichin checked her son’s YouTube account and saw the once removed videos had been re-uploaded with more added. While watching “Elliot’s Day of Retribution” video and reading the first lines of the emailed “manifesto”, Lichin contacted her ex-husband Peter Rodger, Elliot’s father, and the two immediately drove to Isla Vista calling for help, requesting that authorities meet them when they arrived.
Local KEYT news anchor and reporter Joe Buttitta, was the first to release Elliot’s “manifesto” to the public. When I asked who all had received it and how his news station had acquired it, Joe said,
“The manifesto was sent to several people… his parents, an [sic] Santa Barbara Community College professor…Not sure how many were sent out. We got it from the Facebook friend that was communicating with Rodger on a bodybuilding blog [bodybuilding.com]. As far as I know they were all sent out just hours before the rampage…. most by email or Facebook we believe. “
CNN reported later that up to a “couple dozen” people had received this email.
But…It Was Too Late
Three male victims died from multiple “fatal” stab-wounds and were found in Elliot’s Capri Apartments residence at 6598 Seville Road, APT #7, Isla Vista, CA. All three had been killed before the therapist had contacted Elliot’s mom, Lichin. Two of the stabbing victims were his roommates whom he despised. The third victim is assumed at this time to have been a visiting friend of the two roommates. The 2-bedroom apartment only allowed for 3 residents.
In a press conference the day after the murders, Sheriff Bill Brown said,
“The three male victims were apparently stabbed repeatedly with sharp objects and it was a pretty horrific crime scene.”
The names of all three of the stabbing victims have been released as follows: 19-year-old George Chen, 20-year-old Cheng Yuan Hong and 20-year-old Weihan Wang. Both Chen and Hong shared the apartment with Elliot. Hong is the roommate it was reported that Elliot had called the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 15 for “stealing his candies“.
In his “manifesto” Elliot says of these roommates,
“…when the Day of Retribution came, I would have to kill my housemates to get them out of the way. If they were pleasant to live with, I would regret having to kill them, but due to their behavior I now had no regrets about such a prospect. In fact, I’d even enjoy stabbing them both to death while they slept.”
After stabbing the three males in his apartment, three more victims died from gunshot wounds during Elliot’s ruthless massacre. Those names too have been released as follows: 20-year-old Katie Cooper and 19-year-old Veronika Weiss were gunned-down across the street from the Alpha Phi sorority house; 20-year-old Christopher Michael-Martinez was hit by gunfire while inside the IV Deli Market when Elliot opened fire from his black BMW.
It is worth noting that although Elliot claimed in his YouTube videos — as well as in the “manifesto”, that he wanted to kill women specifically [especially the blonde ones] only two of victims were women; but only one of them was a blonde.
In his final chilling YouTube video titled, “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution”, he looks into the camera and tells the world,
“On the day of retribution I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB and I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up blond slut I see inside there.”
He used similar verbiage, although more detailed, in his “manifesto”,
“Alpha Phi sorority is full of hot, beautiful blonde girls; the kind of girls I’ve always desired but was never able to have because they all look down on me. They are all spoiled, heartless, wicked bitches. They think they are superior to me, and if I ever tried to ask one on a date, they would reject me cruelly. I will sneak into their house at around 9:00 p.m. on the Day of Retribution, just before all of the partying starts, and slaughter every single one of them with my guns and knives. If I have time, I will set their whole house on fire. Then we shall see who the superior one really is!”
In the 137-page biography or “manifesto” written by Elliot over the last several months of his life, Elliot not only speaks of his desire to “shoot”, “stab” and “flay” his enemies; he also relishes the idea of running people down with his vehicle, ideally with his father’s SUV saying,
“I already planned to use the Mercedes SUV as one of my weapons on the Day of Retribution, since Isla Vista on weekend nights was always filled with my enemies walking right in the middle of the road. They would be easy targets.”
The gaping hole in the shattered windshield of Elliot’s BMW Coupe is said to have been caused by the impact of a bicyclist Elliot ran down who was reported to have suffered massive head trauma. There were 6 others who Elliot ran down with his car. There is no word currently on the status of the 13 or more people who were injured by gunfire and/or vehicular assault.
The Victims That Weren’t
Although Elliot’s “manifesto” claims he was also going to kill his 5-year old brother, Jazz, as well as his step-mother, actress, Soumaya Akaaboune, while his father was out-of-town and then steal his father’s SUV, Elliot at some point had a change of heart or a change of plans. It is unknown what caused him to alter his plan,
The manifesto reads,
“That was the day that I decided I would have to kill him on the Day of Retribution. I will not allow the boy [Jazz}to surpass me at everything, to live the life I’ve always wanted. It’s not fair that he has the chance to have a pleasurable life while I’ve been denied it. It will be a hard thing to do, because I had really bonded with my little brother in the last year, and he respected and looked up to me. But I would have to do it. If I can’t live a pleasurable life, then neither will he! I will not let him put my legacy to shame. In order to kill Jazz, I would have to kill Soumaya too, but that will be easy. All I would need to do is think about all of the hurtful things she had said to me in that past as I plunge my knife into her neck.But what if father is in the house to stop me? Would I have to kill him too? That would be too much.”
Elliot had “set the date” for his killing spree more than once and for various reasons had postponed it. In the “manifesto” he says Saturday May 24th would definitely be the day, however even that had changed and for reasons that were only known to him, Elliot chose instead Friday, May 23rd as his, “Day of Retribution”.
It is still unknown at what time prior to the shooting spree Elliot stabbed the three men found in his apartment. According to his “manifesto”, he had planned to do this a day before what he had deemed his 2nd phase, the “War on Women”. He had also vowed to decapitate them. We won’t know the details of what went on in that apartment until autopsy reports come out. It is also at that time we will know more about what kind of “sharp objects” or knives Elliot used.
It is also still unknown whether the bullet to the head that killed Elliot Rodger’s was one that came from law enforcement or by one of guns. In his “manifesto” he clearly intends to take his own life. He wanted to ensure he himself did not survive and have to face authorities.
Elliot and Asperger Syndrome
Elliot Rodger was a small and awkward child; he became an even more awkward adult whose slight body still resembled that of a young teen. His small and “frail” frame was a bone of contention for Elliot his entire life, but never more so than after puberty.
He was also of mixed-race, a Eurasian with sharp features and was not a bad-looking guy however slight. He was well-traveled from an early age and still harbored a slight accent he would sometimes exaggerate. Elliot spoke like many others with Asperger Syndrome; robotic, monotonous, stilted, which is apparent in his many videos where you hear him speaking.
Having seen multiple mental health experts off and on since he was at least 13-years old [8-years-old by some reports], Elliot Rodger had a “high-functioning” form of Asperger syndrome”according to Alan Shifman, the attorney of Peter Rodger, assistant director of “The Hunger Games” and Elliot’s [sometimes estranged] father.
Many people — since the tragedy, have opined that Elliot suffered from a Narcissistic Personality, which at face value does indeed seem to be the case to those who have watched the many YouTube videos Elliot has filmed and posted where he looks like a spoiled, arrogant 17-year-old boy preening for the camera, but according to the Mayo Clinic,
When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations.
That does not describe Elliot Rodger at all. At least not the Elliot everyone knew. In fact, Elliot was excruciatingly shy and would often sit quietly alone whenever he was in any social or otherwise public situation. He was very socially awkward, not grandiose and arrogant as seen in his videos. While he hoped and dreamed you’d say hello, Elliot Rodger wasn’t about to say it first.
Those who knew Elliot have commented that his demeanor in the videos is that of someone they didn’t know.
In addition, in his “manifesto” Elliot speaks frequently about not having accomplished anything nor having anything to make people proud of him. He felt he was a failure and was very embarrassed about it although he couldn’t understand it. Narcissistic Personalities would never speak that way or admit to shortcomings.
His obsession with women, particularly blonde women and his inability to understand why he didn’t “have one” relates to his lack of understanding beyond the literal sense. He didn’t understand what he needed to do, i.e. be more social and less awkward. Instead he manifested this as being a need to be richer and more sophisticated and even glamorous. Elliot believed money talked. Growing up in the world of entertainment it is easy to see how literal that need must have seemed to Elliot.
Asperger Syndrome can be co-morbid with other psychiatric illnesses including Obsession/Compulsion Disorder (OCD). From his writings and many videos his obsessions are clear. Obsessive behavior can also be a part of Asperger’s itself.
Although Elliot lived a more affluent and privileged life than most, his family was not “rich” by Hollywood standards and Elliot had begged his divorced mother, Lichin Rodger, on many occasions to marry a multimillionaire. He felt she owed him that much believing being rich would enable him to be more desirable to women.
He had a penchant for blondes and makes no qualms that looks themselves are quite important. He wanted a “beautiful blonde woman” and was quick to point out what he felt were other’s not so attractive looks, especially other guys who seemed to be able to score with woman when he himself could not.
Elliot had devoured and treated as if a religion — for a period of time, the theories and practices put forth in the book, “The Secret” [Laws of Attraction] and later, in a similar book called, “Power of Your Subconscious Mind”, by Joseph Murphy. He believed if he could just become a young millionaire everything would be OK. His life would be grand and beautiful blonde woman would flock to him.
Using the “powers” he’d learned from these books, Elliot set out to win the Lottery, literally. He spent copious amounts of money on Lottery tickets and even — on several occasions, drove across state-lines to Arizona before Powerball had become available in California. He performed meditation rituals before and after purchasing tickets, sometimes not checking to see if he was a winner until several days had passed.
Elliot never won the Lottery.
Those afflicted with Asperger syndrome suffer extreme difficulty engaging with others, especially when it comes to understanding the emotions and nuances of others. What Elliot thought were the answers to his problems were merely the result of how his mind worked and as he got into the later years, those leading up to the massacre, he became very delusional, which is a symptom of psychosis. Psychotic delusions paired with his Asperger’s resulted in the Elliot we have all now know.
Limited social relationships – social isolation
Few/no sustained relationships; relationships that vary from too distant to too intense
Awkward interaction with peers
Unusual egocentricity, with little concern for others or awareness of their viewpoint; little empathy or sensitivity
Lack of awareness of social rules; social blunders
Problems in communication
An odd voice, monotonous, perhaps at an unusual volume
Talking ‘at’ (rather than ‘to’) others, with little concern about their response
Superficially good language but too formal/stilted/pedantic; difficulty in catching any meaning other than the literal
Lack of non-verbal communicative behavior: a wooden, impassive appearance with few gestures; a poorly coordinated gaze that may avoid the other’s eyes or look through them
An awkward or odd posture and body language
Absorbing and narrow interests
Obsessively pursued interests
Very circumscribed interests that contribute little to a wider life, e.g. collecting facts and figures of little practical or social value
Unusual routines or rituals; change is often upsetting
SOURCE: Gillberg, C., Gillberg, C., Rastam, M., et al (2001) The Asperger Syndrome (and high-functioning autism) Diagnostic Interview (ASDI). A preliminary study of a new structured clinical interview. Autism, 5, 57–66.
It is important to understand how Asperger Syndrome may have played a leading role not only in Elliot’s life, but also in the events that led to his murderous rampage that took 7 innocent lives and then his own.
Besides an innate link with varied co-morbidity, there is the stress of growing up with Asperger Syndrome that arises from unrecognized disability, limited achievement and a sense of failure, often revealed by an increasing contrast with more autonomous and successful siblings or peers. In addition, the syndrome distorts relationships with family and peers, who can be infuriated by the person’s self-centered insensitivity, obsessiveness and rigid inflexibility. SOURCE: Howlin, P., Goode, S., Hutton, J., et al (2004) Adult outcome for children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 45, 212–229.
While much has been said about Elliot’s social awkwardness as an adult, the truth is, even as a child Elliot had few friends. His mother, Lichin, often arraigned “play dates” for Elliot even well into his late teen-age years. He met what became his closest friend, James Ellis, while he was standing alone on a playground in elementary school, “kicking dust”. It was James that approached him. In the end, it was also James that walked away.
COMMUNICATION: This is often obviously abnormal, ‘conversation’ taking the form of one-sided, circumstantial lectures delivered impassively by a seemingly robotic figure with a mechanical voice … SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS: These are one-sided, distant or even absent, rather than really reciprocal. Behind this is an unempathic objectivity that results in difficulties that range from understanding friendship (and how friends differ from acquaintances) through to making sexual relationships and grasping the rules … INTERESTS: A key feature of Asperger syndrome is repetitive or focused activities. At their most extreme, these result in an eccentric whose life is characterised by its routine, rigid and systematic approach … SOURCE: Advances in Psychiatric Treatment
While no one is claiming Asperger’s itself is the cause of Elliot’s crimes, Marianne Kristiansson, PhD, professor of forensic psychiatry at Karolinska Institute and the head of the National Board of Forensic Medicine in Stockholm, Sweden addressed the potential role of Asperger Syndrome in 2013 mass shooting by Adam Lanza at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. She shares how a violent Asperger case is different than that of a typical psychopathic killer [Lanza is reported to have had Asperger Syndrome],
“In these cases, it’s very, very different. The motive for the crime is different. The motive of the crime is to communicate that you yourself are very offended. Other people have treated you in a very bad way and you want revenge. You want to communicate that on a very global level to lots of people.”
According to Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, If psychosis arises in someone with Asperger Syndrome, early treatment is extremely important to their prognosis that it should not be delayed by diagnostic doubts.
Because Asperger’s affects social skills and relationships it is common for someone with Asperger’s to have a skewed view or understanding of the relationships around them versus the reality of what they may really be. As noted by experts, someone with Asperger’s can easily feel a relationship is better or worse, closer or more distant that it really is.
For instance, in Elliot’s “manifesto” he speaks often of three particular “close friends”; James Ellis, Philip Bloeser and Addison Altford. These friendships where fluid and became particularly waning in adulthood. In one way or another all three had severed their ties of “friendship” with Elliot Rodger.
In his “manifesto”, Elliot writes of the loss of his friendships with these three particular young men,
“I confided everything to him [James Ellis], because I thought we were on the same page. To be betrayed in such a manner wounded me deeply, though I never admitted it to anyone. On the day of the betrayal, I thought back on our entire friendship. James Ellis was my oldest friend. I … He was a big part of my life. And now he was gone, faded away into memory. I didn’t have any friends left anymore. No friends in the entire world. I didn’t want to see Philip [Bloeser] and Addison [Altendorf] after I cried in front of them at the Getty museum. I was completely and utterly alone, in the darkest pit of despair. And in that pit I withered in agony.”
Arte Ellis told the Washington Post that his son, James, was Elliot’s “only friend” and added,
“There are so many others like Elliot. There’s a lot of really, really lonely people — people that feel left out of life and estranged. And it creates incredibly intense emotional worlds for them that are not expressed outwardly to anybody, and it can be explosive.”
James himself has not yet made a statement.
After hearing the news of what Elliot had done Philip Bloeser posted a plea for prayer on his Facebook wall:
Later the same day, Philip posted the following on his Facebook wall:
In a Facebook private message exchange with me, Philip Bloeser said,
“Everyone is trying to twist the real story. I appreciate you reaching out. Many spammers have been trying to contact me. Right now, every major news network in the country has tried contacting me. I did not stay in regular contact with Elliot. I kept a healthy distance from him because I knew he was socially awkward. But there was no indication that he was violent. He hid his plan from everyone. I am deeply disturbed by what happened with Elliot. “
Addison Altendorf disabled his Facebook account within 2-days of Elliot’s crimes. It can be assumed, he too is being bombarded by press, especially in light of Elliot’s claim in his “manifesto” that he believed in the fall of 2013 Addison knew he was up to something bad,
“When we arrived at a beach park in Palos Verdes that overlooked the ocean, Philip had fallen asleep, so it was just me and Addison who went out to walk around. I took an instant liking to the place, and explored it as much as I could, even though I was still limping with my cane. As the two of us looked up at the stars, we had a few insightful conversations. Addison told me more about his experiences among the popular kids of Malibu, in which I still envied him greatly for. I told him about all of my newfound philosophical views regarding women, and how I believe they are mentally flawed and need to be contained. He didn’t show any hint of how he felt about this. Addison told me that I was a person of high intelligence, and that I shouldn’t waste it by doing something ‘rash’. I believe he had a suspicion that I was indeed planning on massacring my enemies and then killing myself. Of course he would have that suspicion… In a way I think he knew me better than anyone else. I am indeed an intelligent person, but the cruelty of this world gives me no choice but to exact my Retribution. I tactfully told Addison that I had no intentions of “doing anything stupid. That was my last conversation with him. It was also the last time I ever saw Philip and Addison.”
That last visit with Philip and Addison was around the same time Elliot had seen his psychiatrist, Dr. Charles Sophy, for the last time.
Sadly, because of Elliot’s skewed assessment of “close friends”, several people listed in his “manifesto” have been plunged unwittingly into this bloody spotlight by default. Even sadder, to Elliot, these were his very best friends.
Elliot Rodger Legally Acquired His Weapons
Beginning his transformation into a cold-blooded psychotic killer, Elliot went to his first shooting range in Oxnard, California on September 12, 2012 and in his “manifesto” describes his experience as this,
“I had the knowledge, in the back of my mind, that the Day of Retribution was very possible now. Going to the shooting range while I waited for my laptop gave me the perfect opportunity to gain some initial training in shooting guns, which will be the main weapons I use as vengeance against my enemies when the Day of Retribution ultimately comes to pass. I walked into the range, rented a handgun from the ugly old redneck cashier, and started to practice shooting at paper targets. As I fired my first few rounds, I felt so sick to the stomach. I questioned my whole life, and I looked at the gun in front of me and asked myself ‘What am I doing here? How could things have led to this?’ I couldn’t believe my life was actually turning out this way. There I was, practicing shooting with real guns because I had a plan to carry out a massacre. Why did things have to be this way, I silently questioned myself as I looked at the handgun I was holding in front of me. I paid my fee and left the range within minutes, feeling as if I was going to be sick.”
Less than 3-months later, towards the end of November, Elliot was convinced he had no other option than to begin planning his “Day of Retribution” so he purchased the first of his 3 handguns at Goleta Gun and Supply. It was a Glock 34 semiautomatic pistol for which he paid $700. His waiting period was over by mid-December and in his “manifesto” Elliot speaks of the power he felt in bringing it home,
“After I picked up the handgun, I brought it back to my room and felt a new sense of power. I was now armed. Who’s the alpha male now, bitches [emphasis is Elliot's]?”
In a few short months, Elliot made his second legal gun purchase; a Sig Sauer P226 for $1100. He was into serious planning mode now, but in his screed admits,
“The Day of Retribution had always been in the back of my mind as a final solution if all else failed in my life, ever since I had moved to Santa Barbara.”
By the beginning of 2014 Elliot had two semi-automatic handguns and a date to wreak havoc on Isla Vista. He says in his manifesto,
“I needed to buy a third handgun, just in case one of them jams. I needed two working handguns at the same time, as that was how I planned to commit suicide; with two simultaneous shots to the head. I also needed to buy magazine clips and ammunition, as well as knives and carrying cases for my equipment.”
In his mind, he neglected to consider he would be shot in the middle of his deadly rampage and lays out the exact plan he had concocted to end his own life after he took the lives of all those he had deemed hedonistic and worthy of death. He thought he would have time to drive away and find a quiet place to take his life and he wanted to be sure what he did was effective,
“To end my life, I will quickly swallow all of the Xanax and Vicodin pills I have left, along with an ample amount of hard liquor. Immediately after imbibing this mixture, I will shoot myself in the head with two of my handguns simultaneously. If the gunshots don’t kill me, the deadly drug mixture eventually will. I will not suffer being captured and sent to prison.”
We debate often on gun laws and mental health these days, however a very mentally ill Elliot Rodger — although coming from an anti-gun family, was able to legally purchase and register three semi-automatic handguns in his own name without question.
About a week before the April date he had set to deliver his “retribution”, Elliot uploaded several videos to YouTube which were later seen by his mother Lichin. According to Simon Astaire — a Rodger’s family friend and media adviser, Lichin contacted Elliot’s therapist out of concern when she discovered her son’s videos that spoke of suicide and killing people on YouTube. The therapist contacted mental health crisis experts who referred the case to the local authorities.
On April 30, a week after Elliot had uploaded these videos, he was surprised [and scared] to find 6 law enforcement officers at his door and writes of this saying,
“As soon as I saw those cops, the biggest fear I had ever felt in my life overcame me. I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it. If that was the case, the police would have searched my room, found all of my guns and weapons, along with my writings about what I plan to do with them. I would have been thrown in jail, denied of the chance to exact revenge on my enemies. I can’t imagine a hell darker than that. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, but it was so close. Apparently, someone saw my videos and became instantly suspicious of me. They called some sort of health agency, who called the police to check up on me. The police told me it was my mother who called them, but my mother told me it was the health agency. My mother had watched the videos and was very disturbed by them. I don’t suppose I’ll ever know the full truth of who called the police on me. The police interrogated me outside for a few minutes, asking me if I had suicidal thoughts. I tactfully told them that it was all a misunderstanding, and they finally left. If they had demanded to search my room… That would have ended everything. For a few horrible seconds I thought it was all over. When they left, the biggest wave of relief swept over me. It was so scary.”
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said officers had found him to be, “quiet and timid, polite and courteous” when they arrived. He spoke of this incident Sunday, May 25, only 2-days after the massacre, on CBS’s “Face the Nation” saying,
“He was able to make a very convincing story that there was no problem, that he wasn’t going to hurt himself or anyone else, and he just didn’t meet the criteria for any further intervention at that point. Obviously, we certainly wish that we could turn the clock back and change some things, but at the time the deputies interacted with him, he was able to convince them that he was okay.”
Brown added it was “determined he [Elliot] did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold.”
And, from a Washington Post article,
How can someone who had been in and out of psychiatry for nearly 10-years [or more] not have documentation of a “mental health history”?
At the very least we know…
Elliot had been to see his old psychologist Dr. Randy Gold on the afternoon of Halloween 2012. At that time, Elliot was already formulating his idea for his “final retribution” and had actually wanted it to commence the following year on the same day.
Elliot had also been seen over the 2012/2013 winter break by his established psychiatrist, Dr. Charles Sophy, and again by Dr. Sophy in the summer of 2013. It was at that time when he was assigned a weekly “social skills” counselor, but Elliot’s plans were well under way.
In late August of 2013, Elliot again saw Dr. Sophy, this time the whole family was in on the meeting, including Elliot’s step-mother Soumaya. Elliot talks of this meeting in his “manifesto”,
“Dr. Sophy ended up giving me the same useless advice that every other psychiatrist, psychologist, and counsellor had given me in the past. I don’t know why my parents wasted money on therapy, as it will never help me in my struggle against such a cruel and unjust world. The doctor ended up dismissing it by prescribing me a controversial medication, Risperidone. After researching this medication, I found that it was the absolute wrong thing for me to take. I refused to take it, and I never saw Dr. Sophy again after that.”
According to the National Library of Medicine, Risperidone is used for:
Risperidone is used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia (a mental illness that causes disturbed or unusual thinking, loss of interest in life, and strong or inappropriate emotions) in adults and teenagers 13 years of age and older. It is also used to treat episodes of mania (frenzied, abnormally excited, or irritated mood) or mixed episodes (symptoms of mania and depression that happen together) in adults and in teenagers and children 10 years of age and older with bipolar disorder (manic depressive disorder; a disease that causes episodes of depression, episodes of mania, and other abnormal moods). Risperidone is also used to treat behavior problems such as aggression, self-injury, and sudden mood changes in teenagers and children 5 to 16 years of age who have autism (a condition that causes repetitive behavior, difficulty interacting with others, and problems with communication). Risperidone is in a class of medications called atypical antipsychotics. It works by changing the activity of certain natural substances in the brain.
Because Elliot had threatened his own life and that of others in those April videos there was probable cause for 72-hour metal health hold. By all intents and purposes Elliot’s family, therapist and the ensuing mental health experts that were called all had done the right thing, but it was the Santa Barbara Sheriffs that let him slip through the cracks.
It seems clear there is indeed plenty of documentation of Elliot’s “mental health history” and when you combine that with the nature of the video content for which the cops had been called, one would think the authorities would have done more than stand outside the door chit-chatting. Had they taken his video messages more seriously, looked into his mental health history and entered the apartment for a safety-check they may have discovered 3 semi-automatic handguns, more than 400 rounds of ammo, knives and the working draft of his “manifesto”. The Isla Vista Massacre by the baby-faced killer may have never happened.
Sgt. Mark Williams of the sheriff’s office is quoted in that same Washington Post piece as saying,
“He had some emotional trouble. He was upset. We all get upset sometimes. . . . We have to have a pretty strong belief to take someone’s rights away — the right to bear arms, the freedom.”
It is unclear why Sgt. Williams mentioned a “right to bear arms” unless they had [in April] run a check and discovered Elliot Rodger was a registered gun owner. If they did, then why would they have been so casual after knocking on his door?
Until the time came that Elliot had actually used them, no one, but the shop owners who sold them, knew Elliot had a gun…let alone 3 of them.
Are politics — personal or otherwise, already playing a role in the investigation and aftermath of this tragedy? Is that why Sgt. Mark Williams mentioned Elliot’s “right to bear arms”? This writer can see no other reason why.
While the gun debate rages on with both sides having valid points, it is still only a debate of vitriol while in reality nothing is being done to stop gun violence in America. The NRA, with all of their power and Lobbying money, may not be responsible for the acts themselves, but their rigidity and unwillingness to change is a part of what allowed Elliot Rodger to be able to legally buy the guns that killed 4 people and injured 7 others.
Had Elliot had to wield a knife down the streets of Isla Vista he would have harmed far fewer people and been stopped much sooner. Those who have opined that if one of the college students had been carrying a gun themselves this would have been over quickly, but the reality is, even with multiple law enforcement on the scene engaged in 2 shoot-outs with Elliot Rodger there was more carnage before the chaos ended.
Would Elliot have gotten the help he needed had the Sheriffs investigated thoroughly in April? Could or would this tragedy have been averted?
We will never know, but we do know Santa Barbara Sheriffs had three separate encounters with Elliot in the 10-months leading to the massacre. One of the occasions was after Elliot had been beaten and pushed off of the 10-foot ledge he himself was trying to shove the women over.
There is no doubt that many other things contributed in the making of the baby-faced killer of Isla Vista. From Elliot’s broken home and constant moving, to a spoiled life that encouraged his obsessions; from the violence of World of Warcraft and Halo to the blatant in-your-face sexuality everywhere you go and in everything you see. We live in a world of excesses where morals and boundaries are blurred and violence is sold. The impact on those who struggle with mental health continues to be harsh and measurable.
Access to guns is always going to be an issue and it’s an issue we need to stop debating and start addressing. There are more Elliot Rodger’s, Adam Lanza’s and James Holmes’ among us and many more whose seeds of delusion have yet to take root. Mental health cannot be addressed by ignoring.