Police officers who visited Elliot Rodger just weeks
before he went on a shooting rampage that left six dead and
more than a dozen injured knew of disturbing videos he posted
online, but did not check them.
A new timeline released by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's
Office shows police responded to a welfare check phoned in by
a county mental health worker the night of April 30 and found
a shy, timid but polite Rodger outside his apartment.
Four sheriffs' deputies, a University of California at Santa
Barbara police officer and a dispatcher in training asked
Rodger during the 10-minute encounter about the videos he had
posted online, but he said they were simply a way of
expressing himself as he was having trouble fitting in
"Sheriff's deputies concluded that Rodger was not an
immediate threat to himself or others, and that they did not
have cause to place him on an involuntary mental health hold,
or to enter or search his residence," the sheriff's office
said in the statement.
"Therefore, they did not view the videos or conduct a weapons
check on Rodger."
A deputy called Rodger's mother and briefed her on the
situation, then gave the phone to Rodger who told her
everything was fine and that he would call her later, the
statement said. The officers gave Rodger information on local
support services and left.
"The sheriff's office has determined that the deputies who
responded handled the call in a professional manner
consistent with state law and department policy," it added.
Typically only two deputies respond to mental welfare calls,
but a few unassigned officers showed up due to their
experience with Rodger in a petty theft case, the statement
Chris Pollard, 22, a neighbor of Rodger's interviewed by
Reuters after the shootings, described watching the latter's
videos, titled, "Spring break sucks when you're lonely," and
"My reaction to seeing a couple at the beach...envy," and
posted around that time.
"It was a clear cry for help," said Pollard, adding that he
had found the videos too disturbing to watch in their
But it was unlikely the police could have done more during
their check, he said.
"I mean, how far can you go without violating somebody's
rights?" Pollard said. "When you looked at (Rodger), there
was no reason to get concerned. He didn't seem like a
threatening or intimidating guy. He was just very quiet."
The Sheriff's Office statement also gave new details of the
night of the killings. The sheriff's office said authorities
learned of the "Retribution" video and the 137-page manifesto
roughly an hour after the shootings.
That video was uploaded to YouTube at 9:17 p.m. PST (0417
GMT) the night of the shootings, and Rodger emailed the
manifesto to his parents, therapist and several others a
minute later. The first gunshots were reported at 9:27 p.m.,
and the rampage had ended 20 minutes later.
The statement described the case as one of the most complex
in the county's history, adding that the investigation was
continuing. The sheriff's office said it would be making no
further information available.