By Dana Feldman
SANTA BARBARA Calif. (Reuters) – Students at the University of California at Santa Barbara returned to campus for a “day of mourning” on Tuesday, four days after the son of a Hollywood film director killed six students in a stabbing and shooting rampage across the seaside community.
The university canceled classes for Tuesday, the first day since the killings on Friday that the campus would have been open, but faculty were asked to be on hand to meet with distraught students.
A memorial service for the six students who were slain on Friday night was scheduled for afternoon and eight large blackboards were erected on a street corner in the community of Isla Vista, near the campus, where students were encouraged to write messages in chalk.
“All of my friends are very strongly affected by this,” said William Tobolowsky, a 20-year-old microbiology major at UCSB. “Isla Vista is a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone to a certain extent.”
“It’s important that everyone has the opportunity to be sad and upset,” he said. “It’s important to have a day dedicated to it so we have time to reflect.”
Police say 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, the son of “Hunger Games” assistant director Peter Rodger, stabbed his two roommates and another young man to death in his Isla Vista apartment, then shot and killed three people near the campus before turning the gun on himself.
All six of his victims, two women and four men, were between the ages of 19 and 22 and were students at the UCSB. Another 13 people were wounded, including eight who were shot by Rodger as he sped through town in his black BMW, exchanging gunfire with police.
Officers found Rodger, who was bent on revenge against women he believed had snubbed him sexually, dead in his car with three legally purchased pistols and some 400 rounds of ammunition.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s officials have acknowledged that deputies had visited Rodger at his apartment weeks before the shooting at the request of his mother, who had been disturbed by videos he posted online, but left after he assured them he meant no harm.
Recounting that visit in a manifesto he sent to friends and relatives shortly before the shooting, Rodger said that if the deputies at his door had searched his room, they would have found the firearms and denied him the chance to carry out his violent plans.
That disclosure has led some to question whether police, who say they could not have searched the young man’s apartment without a warrant, could have done more to prevent the attacks.
“When it got to the point that the parents called the police, it makes me wonder if the police even looked at the videos,” neighbor Chris Pollard, 22, told Reuters. “If they’d looked at the videos, they could’ve done some sort of court order to do a search warrant.”
(Writing and additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by G Crosse and Cynthia Johnston)