Killer’s family tried to intervene before rampage
GOLETA, Calif. (AP) — It was Friday night when Elliot Rodger’s mother got a call from her son’s therapist that he had emailed a ranting manifesto about going on a deadly rampage.The mother went to her son’s YouTube channel and found the video in which he threatens to kill people. She alerted authorities and set off frantically with her ex-husband to Santa Barbara.
By the time they arrived, it was too late: their son had killed six people and then, authorities say, himself.
“They’re in deep, deep grief,” family friend Simon Astaire said Sunday as he recounted the family’s ordeal. “Their grief which is nearly unbearable to be close to is as much for the loss of their son as for the victims.”
It was the second time in recent months that Rodger’s mother tried to intervene. In April, she had called one of her son’s counselors after seeing bizarre videos he had posted on YouTube, though not the disturbing one he posted shortly before the killings, Astaire said. The counselor called a mental health service, which then called police.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies who showed up at Rodger’s doorstep to check on his mental health, however, weren’t aware of any videos, the department’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said. They concluded after their visit that the well-mannered if shy young man posed no risk.
Sheriff Bill Brown has defended the deputies’ actions, but the case highlights the challenges that police face in assessing the mental health of adults, particularly those with no history of violent breakdowns, institutionalizations or serious crimes.
“Obviously, looking back on this, it’s a very tragic situation and we certainly wish that we could turn the clock back and maybe change some things,” Brown told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“At the time deputies interacted with him, he was able to convince them that he was OK,” he said.
It’s not clear whether the mother’s concern about the videos was conveyed to the deputies. An email to the counselor was not immediately returned.
There are already laws on the books to keep guns out of the hands of those with a history of mental illness but as in this case the bar for committing people is pretty high.
I’m also pretty sure the NRA would scream if a mechanism were put in place for taking away someone’s guns on suspicion of mental illness.