The horrific rampage in Isla Vista on the Friday before Memorial Day was the work of a lone gunman with a history of psychological issues.
Anyone who has seen a fragment of the YouTube video that Elliot Rodger posted shortly before committing what Sheriff Bill Brown calls a “mass murder” will almost certainly find it chilling. Anyone who watched the video, learned of his history, his gun purchases and the concerns of his parents would reasonably wonder why more wasn’t done to intervene.
However, it’s far too early to make final judgments about what happened in the weeks before Rodger came unglued. And the impact of this tragedy will ripple across our communities for a very long time. But here are some thoughts.
We are one community. It’s easy to dismiss Isla Vista as a mere college town, but in fact it is integrally connected to the rest of the South Coast and to the rest of the region. Rodger was a student at Santa Barbara City College, but many of the victims were UC Santa Barbara students with roots across the Central Coast.
In responding to the shootings, our law enforcement and trauma systems worked fairly well. The incident was over something like 10 minutes after the shooting started and, at least at this early stage, it looks like all of the injured were successfully treated.
Still there are questions. Given other recent violent incidents in Isla Vista, including the Deltopia riots, is there something about the culture and lifestyle that needs a major rethink? Should someone with Rodger’s history of mental health treatment be able to pass a background check for a handgun without raising a red flag? Did the police miss something when they made a welfare call on Rodger a few weeks before the deadly rampage? How many people worried about Rodger but chose to say nothing?
And finally a personal note. I was the editor at The Denver Business Journal when the Columbine school shootings took place. The impact of those shootings on the community at large, including businesses, health care and political leaders, can not be overstated.