A gunman in a black BMW opened fire on crowds of people Friday night in a Southern California seaside town near UC Santa Barbara, killing six people and injuring seven others in what investigators described as a “mass murder” rampage.
The gunman was later involved in at least one shootout with sheriff’s deputies and died of a gunshot wound to the head, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a Saturday morning news conference. He could not confirm whether the gunshot was self-inflicted.
Seven victims were hospitalized and at least one of them underwent surgery for life-threatening injuries, Brown said. Details regarding the other victims’ conditions were not immediately available.
Witnesses who spoke with NBC4 identified the gunman as Elliot Rodger. Sheriff’s department personnel are investigating a video in which a man identified as Rodger details plans for “retribution” and “revenge against humanity” prior to the shooting.
The gunfire erupted just before 9:30 p.m. in the town known for rowdy parties and a raucous weekend scene. The gunman shot victims while he was inside his car, a black BMW 3 series coupe, according to witness and sheriff’s department accounts.
Nine crime scene locations were confirmed across Isla Vista, but no shots were fired on the university’s campus, Brown said. At one point, the black BMW stopped outside a popular deli before rapid gunfire sprayed into the crowd.
“I heard somewhere between 12 to 20 shots into a group of people who were eating in front of it,” witness Robert Johnson said.
Approximately six minutes after the initial call was received, the driver shot at responding deputies and deputies returned gunfire. The driver fled in his vehicle, encountered another deputy, exchanged gunfire and fled again.
The driver eventually crashed into a parked vehicle. When deputies approached the vehicle, they found the lone occupant dead from an apparent gunshot wound.
About 10 minutes passed between the time officials received the first 911 call to the time the suspect was determined to be dead at the scene, Brown said.
Officials believe the gunman acted alone and are not looking for any additional suspects. One semi automatic handgun was recovered from the suspect’s vehicle.
“It’s obviously a heartbreaking situation to see this happen,” Brown said.
Officials knew the identity of the shooter but were waiting to release it until they had positive confirmation. A video posted on YouTube making threats to Isla Vista residents was being investigated as evidence.
“(We are) analyzing both written and video taped evidence that suggest this atrocity was a premeditated mass murder,” Brown said.
Officials are in the process of identifying the seven victims and notifying the next of kin.
Residents took to social media to report multiple drive-by shootings and a hit-and-run. One woman said she saw a man with a gun and heard shots being fired immediately after seeing him.
Isla Vista residents were urged to stay indoors.
The motive behind the shooting was not immediately clear.
The mass killing comes about 13 years after a former UC Santa Barbara student drove his car through a crowd of people in Isla Vista, killing four. David Attias was convicted on four counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to a state mental hospital.
Anyone who witnessed the crime or has any information is asked to call the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office at 805-681-4171.
NBC4’s Jonathan Lloyd and Jane Yamamoto contributed to this report.
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Source: Santa Clarita News