[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery. Click here for a quick video clip taken during the rampage. Warning: Language alert.]
Seven people were killed in a drive-by shooting rampage Friday night that stretched across several blocks in the heart of Isla Vista west of the UC Santa Barbara campus. Seven other people were hospitalized with injuries or wounds suffered in the carnage.
Early Saturday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters that the suspected gunman was among the dead, having been shot in the head during a running gun battle with law-enforcement personnel.
“This obviously was the work of a mad man,” Brown said, describing the violence as a “mass murder.”
The names of the gunman — who tentatively has been identified — and those he killed were not being released pending further investigation and notification of next of kin, Brown said.
Earlier reports said one suspect was in custody, but Brown said the gunman acted alone.
He said it had not yet been determined whether the gunman killed himself or died from shots fired by deputies.
Gunman in Rampage Described as ‘Severely Mentally Disturbed’
The rampage began shortly before 9:30 p.m., when 9-1-1 dispatchers received multiple reports of gunshots in the Isla Vista area, Brown said.
Deputies who were patrolling the community heard them as well, and quickly found several victims with gunshot wounds.
They also received descriptions of the suspect and the vehicle, a black BMW 328i coupe.
Six minutes after the initial call, Brown said, the gunman exchanged fire with deputies, then sped away in his car.
Moments later, there was another exchange of gunfire, and the gunman again drove away, before crashing into another vehicle in the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive, he said.
It was there that deputies found the man dead from a gunshot wound to the head, Brown said.
They also recovered a semi-automatic handgun.
Asked about reports there were two people in the gunman’s car, Brown reiterated that deputies believe the shooter acted alone.
He said investigators have video and written evidence connecting the dead assailant to the shooting spree and suggesting that it was a pre-meditated mass murder.
While Brown would not name the suspect, he confirmed that a YouTube video titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution” appeared to be connected to the killing spree.
In the video, a young man sits behind the wheel of a parked car and rants about how he’s been ignored by women at UCSB and that his sexual advances have been rejected. He promises to go to Isla Vista on Friday night to seek revenge against women — especially sorority members — by slaughtering them.
Rodger’s Facebook page indicates he’s from Calabasas, and shows him sitting in a black BMW coupe.
Brown declined to detail where the killings occurred, but said “there were nine separate crime scenes.”
All those who were killed were declared dead at the scene, he said.
Noozhawk contributor Peter Hartmann, reporting from Isla Vista, told Noozhawk that two people were dead on Embarcadero Del Norte near Segovia Road, another was dead just inside the Isla Vista Deli Mart at 6549 Pardall Road in the downtown loop, and a fourth person was dead near the suspect’s car on Del Playa Drive.
On Saturday afternoon, Coroner’s Office personnel were seen removing three bodies from the Capri Apartments in the 6500 block of Seville Road.
Zack Warburg, another Noozhawk contributor who lives nearby, said a black BMW was traveling west on Sabado Tarde, “spraying bullets as it went.” The car reportedly sideswiped cars and struck at least one bicyclist.
Those who were hospitalized include one person who was in surgery early Saturday for life-threatening injuries, Brown said.
Another witness told Noozhawk that in the chaos after a young woman was shot outside the 7-Eleven at 6545 Trigo Road, the store’s two clerks hid 35 people inside until authorities secured the area.
A wide swath of the densely populated community was cordoned off and locked down by authorities, and Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said much of Isla Vista would be blocked off for at least 24 hours while investigators examined the various shooting scenes.
The public’s help is being sought in the complex case, and she asked that witnesses — or anyone with information about the crime — call the sheriff’s confidential tip line at 805.681.4171.
Hoover said the Sheriff’s Department is being assisted by the UCSB and Santa Barbara police departments, the California Highway Patrol, investigators from the District Attorney’s Office, California State Parks and criminalists from the state Department of Justice crime lab.
Kristen Miller, a resident of Storke Ranch, about a mile away from the carnage, said the gunshots were followed quickly by sirens.
“We definitely heard what sounded like gunshots and then, almost immediately, sirens,” she told Noozhawk. “The sirens were so loud and ongoing that my kids came into my room. They were a little scared.”
The killings evoked eerie similarities with a 2001 rampage by UCSB student David Attias, who raced his car down a crowded Isla Vista street, killing four young people and injuring another.
Attias was acquitted of driving under the influence but convicted of four counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of Nicholas Bourdakis, Christopher Divis, Elie Israel and Ruth Levy. The jury then declared him legally insane.
After serving 10 years at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, Attias, now 30, was granted his conditional release last year so he could move to a community outpatient program.
In 2006, and less than two miles from Isla Vista, a former U.S. Postal Worker killed a neighbor and then drove to the Storke Road mail-processing facility, where she fatally shot six more people before killing herself.
Friday’s violence came seven weeks after widespread rioting broke out following the day-long, alcohol-fueled Isla Vista street party known as Deltopia. Authorities used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to take back the streets in the hours-long melee.
At least six officers were injured when they were struck by rocks and bottles hurled by rioters, and scores of people were hospitalized and arrested.
— Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.