California drive-by shooting near university leaves seven dead

Police say incident near university was premeditated and 'work of a madman'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 May, 2014, 5:26am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 May, 2014, 8:51am

A gunman went on a drive-by shooting near a Santa Barbara university campus that left seven people dead, including himself, and seven others wounded.

The gunman engaged in two battles with police during Friday night's rampage in the beachside community of Isla Vista before crashing his black BMW into a parked car, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said yesterday.

Police found the gunman dead with a gunshot wound to the head, but it was not clear whether he was killed by gunfire or if he committed suicide, Brown said.

A semi-automatic handgun was recovered from the scene near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Investigators knew the gunman's name but would not release it before relatives were notified, Brown said.

"We're analysing both written and videotaped evidence that suggests that this atrocity was a premeditated mass murder," Brown said, describing the shooting as "obviously the work of a madman".

Authorities believe the gunman acted alone and are investigating a video on YouTube he is thought to have posted.

The Santa Barbara Independent reported the video was posted the day before the rampage and that, in it, the shooter "laments his 'life of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires'."

In it, the publication claims, he blames women for rejecting him and instead throwing themselves at "obnoxious brutes".

Police have not confirmed the authenticity of the video.

The shootings occurred at about 9.30pm in a student enclave reputed for parties. Brown said the shootings occurred at several sites.

A student told KEYT-TV he saw one woman killed by shots fired from a BMW and another woman critically injured.

"I heard shots, scream, pain," Michael Vitak said. "All emotions. I hope she is going to be fine."

College student Brad Martin told a student newspaper that his girlfriend was "absolutely hysterical" after being approached by the gunman with a weapon she initially thought was not real.

"She said the next second he raised it up to her face ... and she turned around and started running. That's when she heard 'bang, bang, bang' right behind her as she was running," Martin told the Daily Nexus.

Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse