Parents of Elliot Rodger's stabbing victims share their frustrations

They say the killings in California could have been prevented if police had recognised the warning signals by the disturbed Elliot Rodger

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 3:30am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 7:38pm

Inside a two-bedroom beachside apartment, Elliot Rodger began his Santa Barbara rampage last month by mutilating his two roommates and their friend. The scene, police said, was horrific.

But there were few signs of a struggle, according to the victims' parents. There was no blood on the walls or ceiling, and the confrontation between Rodger and the three other young men seemed to have been confined to a small space, the parents said based on a visit to the crime scene. They said evidence taken from the apartment makes them think that Rodger may have used a machete, knives and a hammer to kill their sons.

"How did one boy do this? Our sons, there were three of them. … We wonder, were our boys drugged?" Junan Chen, the father of George Chen, 19, said in an interview.

After Rodger killed them on May 23, he set out in his black BMW and later on foot, fatally shooting three strangers before committing suicide. Those latter killings happened in public view - in a store and in front of a sorority house - but the first three occurred behind closed doors in the shared apartment, and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department has disclosed few details about what happened there.

The parents of the three university students who were stabbed said it had taken them weeks to muster the courage to speak publicly about the killings.

The three families - all Chinese immigrants who said they came to the United States for a better life - said they were disturbed by a culture that seemed more interested in the killer than in their sons and that they were angered by public health and legal systems they said valued the rights of the mentally ill, including Rodger, over those who might become their victims.

It may be too late for our kids, but I don't want it to be too late for other ... children
Henry Hong, father of victim

"It may be too late for our kids, but I don't want it to be too late for other American children," said Henry Hong, the father of Cheng Yuan "James" Hong. "The system is clearly broken. It should have protected our sons, who were so innocent and trusting."

James Hong and Weihan "David" Wang, both 20, were Rodger's roommates, and Chen was their friend. They were students at the University of California at Santa Barbara's School of Engineering, where they met during their first year.

In a joint interview, the victims' parents said that they visited the crime scene and saw no blood on the walls or ceiling.

The parents are especially angry with the department over what they said were several missed opportunities to recognise how troubled Rodger was and thus prevent the killings.

The first missed chance came in July 2013, when Rodger pretended to shoot people with an imaginary gun at a party and then tried to push several women at the party off a 3-metre-high ledge. Deputies did not arrest him or investigate further.

The parents said another opportunity came six months later, when Rodger called 911, the US emergency number, to report that Hong had stolen candles from him that were worth US$22. Rodger insisted that the deputies take action.

"At this point, police should have known there was something wrong with this boy," Henry Hong said. "He called 911 over candles … It was a minor thing between roommates."

It is the third encounter between the deputies and Rodger that most upsets the parents. One month before the killings, Rodger's mother had alerted the department to his deteriorating mental state and told them about disturbing videos he had posted on YouTube.

In response, deputies went to Rodger's apartment but did not view the videos.

"If they went in, they would have also found the knives," Kelly Wang said. "Our boys would still be with us."

Additional reporting by Associated Press