Three ethnic Chinese named as stab victims in California killing spree

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 May, 2014, 11:26am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 May, 2014, 10:51pm

Police have named the victims of a 22-year-old man who went on a violent stabbing and shooting rampage in California, before killing himself.

Elliot Rodger, the son of a Hollywood director, stabbed three people to death in his apartment before gunning down three more victims on Friday night in the town of Isla Vista near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Watch: Student witnesses describe California shooting scene

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department officials named Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, of San Jose; George Chen, 19, of San Jose; and Weihan Wang, 20, of Fremont, who were stabbed multiple times at his Isla Vista apartment.

Police said Rodger attacked them before going on a rampage through Isla Vista, killing three more people: Students Katherine Cooper, 22, Veronica Weiss, 19, and Christopher Michael-Martinez, 20, before taking his own life.

Another 13 people were wounded in the attack, two of whom remain in serious condition.

Hong and Chen were Rodger’s roommates. It’s unclear whether Wang also was a roommate or was just visiting, officials said. Finding their bodies inside the apartment was “a horrific crime scene,” Sheriff Bill Brown said according to the Los Angeles Times.

Following the attack, police found Rodger dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. In his car were three legally purchased semi-automatic guns, two Sig Sauers and a Glock, and some 400 rounds of unspent ammunition, Brown said.

Rodger, the son of a British father and ethnic Chinese mother had cited difficulties fitting in with others because of his race, and found it hard to meet women.

In a 140-page manifesto and threatening YouTube videos, Rodger bitterly complained of loneliness and rejection by women and laid out plans to kill those he believes spurned him.

It is unclear why he killed his roommates, however, at least one of them encountered issues with him before.

In January, Rodger accused Hong of stealing three candles, valued at US$22, said Joyce Dudley, Santa Barbara County district attorney.

When Hong said he didn’t know where the candles were, Rodger performed a citizen’s arrest and called 911. Sheriff’s deputies found the candles on Hong’s bed. He was arrested and charged with a petty theft infraction.

Hong was a computer science student who grew up in Taipei, according to his Facebook page. He graduated in 2012 from Lynbrook High School in San Jose.

Before his killing spree, Rodger, a former student at Santa Barbara City College, said in his manifesto that police nearly foiled his plot when they visited him last month.

“I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it,” Rodger said in the manifesto, published in part by the Los Angeles Times.

“If that was the case, the police would have searched my room, found all of my guns and weapons, along with my writings about what I plan to do with them. I would have been thrown in jail, denied of the chance to exact revenge on my enemies. I can’t imagine a hell darker than that,” he wrote.

Rodger said he learned that videos he posted online had alarmed his mother, and believed either she or a mental health agency had asked authorities to check up on him. He said the police left after he told them it was all a misunderstanding.

In a YouTube video posted shortly before the rampage, a young man believed by police to be Rodger bitterly complained of loneliness and rejection by women and outlined his plan to kill those he believed spurned him.

Brown has said that Rodger was seen by a variety of healthcare professionals and it was “very, very apparent he was severely mentally disturbed.”

Brown said his department had been in contact with Rodger three times prior to the killings, including for a welfare check in which deputies found him to be polite and courteous. He did not appear to meet criteria to be held involuntarily on mental health grounds, and deputies took no further action, Brown said.

Family friend Simon Astaire said that on Friday night Elliot Rodger’s mother, Chin, received a phone call from one of his therapists alerting her to the manifesto, which Elliot had e-mailed to both of them.

Chin Rodger called 911 and her ex-husband, Peter Rodger, to tell him about the situation, Astaire said. The two parents raced to Isla Vista in separate cars and on the way Chin heard radio reports about the shootings, he said.

Astaire, an author and media consultant, said the parents were “full of fear and full of everything you can imagine.” He said they met with police in Santa Barbara and were told their son was believed to be the gunman.

Elliot Rodger had seen therapists off and on since he was nine years old, Astaire said. He was very reserved to the point of seeming to have trouble communicating with “an underlying sadness about him, a frustration,” Astaire said.

The gunman’s family had no idea he had acquired firearms, Astaire said. “There was no suggestion that he had any interest, any liking for guns,” he said.

In a plot laid out in writing, Rodger said he planned to first kill his housemates then lure others to his residence to continue his killings, before slaughtering women in a university sorority and continuing his spree in the streets of Isla Vista. Then, he would commit suicide.

He wrote that he also planned to kill his younger brother, “denying him of the chance to grow up to surpass me”, as well as his stepmother, who he said would be in the way – killings he did not carry out.

But he did not think he was mentally prepared to kill his father, an assistant director on the 2012 film The Hunger Games, according to the manifesto.

A lawyer for the family, Alan Shifman, said they offered sympathy to those affected by the tragedy. Authorities searched the homes of both of Rodger’s parents on Sunday but neither appeared to be home at the time.

A neighbour of Elliot Rodger who asked not to be identified told reporters on Sunday that Rodger had attended parties in the courtyard of the building but would sit alone, looking sullen.

One night last summer, the neighbour said, Rodger came home bruised and bloodied from a fight with some men at a party after he had aggressively approached a woman there.

“After the beating he was shaking, profusely crying, his eyes were like water faucets,” the neighbour said. “I’ve never seen anybody that mad, that upset in my life.”

Reuters, Agence France-Presse