Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies who interviewed Isla Vista mass murderer Elliot Rodger last month on a “check the welfare” call followed department polices and state law, according to a written statement released Thursday afternoon by the Sheriff’s Department.
Questions have been raised about whether the deputies acted appropriately, and whether they missed an opportunity to prevent Rodger’s rampage last Friday night, which left six people dead and 13 injured before the 22-year-old apparently took his own life with a gunshot to the head.
“Based on the information reviewed thus far, 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,” according to the statement.
The statement included the following timeline:
At 10:17 p.m. April 30, the county Emergency Communications Center received a call from a mental-health professional with the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Department’s toll-free access line requesting that deputies check the welfare of Rodger, who lived at on apartment on the 6500 block of Seville Road in Isla Vista.
The staff member indicated she had been contacted by a friend of Rodger, as well as Rodger’s mother, Chin Rodger.
Four deputies and a UC Santa Barbara police officer assigned to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol plus a dispatcher in training responded to the call, and found Rodger outside his residence.
“Deputies found Rodger to be shy, timid and polite. When questioned by the deputies about reported disturbing videos he had posted online, Rodger told them he was having trouble fitting in socially in Isla Vista and the videos were merely a way of expressing himself.”
The law enforcement officers, who did not view the videos at that time, 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.”
One of the deputies telephoned Rodger’s mother and briefed her on the situation. He then passed the phone to Rodger so he could speak with her directly.
“During the conversation with his mother, Rodger told her he was fine and that he would call her later.”
Before leaving, deputies gave Rodgers information about local agencies that he could contact if he needed help, including the Sheriff’s Department.
There was no indication from the statement that anyone from the county’s Crisis and Recovery Emergency Services (CARES) team, which operates on a 24/7 basis, was called in to make an assessment of Rodger.
The statement also included a detailed timeline on when the Sheriff’s Department became aware of the written diatribe and “Day of Retribution” video Rodger emailed and posted on the Internet, detailing his murderous intentions.
The department became aware of the video and manifesto roughly an hour after Rodger’s rampage occurred.
The first gunshots were reported at 9:27 p.m., and he was found shot dead eight minutes later.
Rodger uploaded his video at 9:17 p.m., and emailed the manifesto at 9:18 p.m. to numerous people, including his mother, father and therapist.
“The therapist saw the e-mail at approximately 10 p.m., and contacted the Santa Barbara Police Department at approximately 10:11 p.m.,” the statement said.
“The Santa Barbara Police Department contacted Rodger’s mother to obtain further information. This information was subsequently forwarded to sheriff’s detectives at approximately 10:26 p.m., at which time they first viewed the ‘manifesto’ and ‘Retribution’ video.”
Sheriff’s Department officials indicated in the statement that no other information on the case would be released Thursday.
Three people were fatally shot by Rodger: Katherine Breann “Katie” Cooper, 22, of Chino Hills; Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20, of Los Osos; and Veronika Elizabeth Weiss, 19, of Westlake Village.
Three others were found stabbed to death in Rodger’s apartment: Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, and George Chen, 19, both of San Jose, and Weihan Wang, 20, of Fremont.
Investigators have indicated they believe they were killed prior to the rampage, and there are indications that may have occurred overnight on Thursday.
All six were UCSB students.