Frequently initial eyewitness accounts of violent crime scenes prove especially helpful for independent researchers to piece together what actually may have transpired. For example, in the aftermath of the major political assassinations of the late 1960s, the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing, or more recent mass shootings, subsequent official accounts of potential culprits can vary significantly from those of first-hand witnesses.
This may also be the case concerning the tragic May 23 shooting in Isla Vista, California. In this event numerous witnesses claim two men were inside the black BMW and proceeded to carry out a number of “drive by” shootings. Note, however, that this is not what has been imbued in to the popular memory over the past few days. The two pairs of local press reports below suggest differing accounts before and after the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s 2:30AM press conference on May 24, where Sheriff Bill Brown confirmed a sole suspect, Elliot Rodger, and pointed to his YouTube video rant as sufficient evidence to indict him in the court of public opinion.
On May 27 MHB contacted the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office to request an incident report. The SBS asserts that the agency only provides such reports to those directly impacted by the crime, and that in this case even direct involvement may not be sufficient cause for release of the report.-JFT
Original Post May 24, 2014 12:33AM
Witnesses described seeing a black BMW speeding through the streets, spraying bullets at people and various targets near El Embarcadero and Segovia Roads and the top of the loop along Del Playa in Isla Vista.
The time frame between the first 911 call to the discovery of the dead suspect was ten minutes.
Multiple witnesses say they saw two people inside the suspect’s vehicle, however, during the press conference, Sheriff Brown would neither confirm nor deny whether there was a passenger in the car.
At this time, the sheriff is not releasing the suspect’s name, although he has been identified.
Brown called the suspect “severely mentally disturbed” and said, “This was a premeditated mass murder.”
Word on the street quickly spread about an ominous YouTube video posted by a young man who identified himself as Elliot Rodger, titled “Retribution.” The nearly seven minute long rant blasts women who’ve ignored or rejected him over the past eight years and warns that he will “punish you all for it.”
When questioned about the video during the news conference, Sheriff Brown indicated investigators were familiar with it and are looking into whether Roger was connected with the crime.
The victims include someone who was shot dead inside the I.V. Delimart on Pardall Road. The market windows are pocked with bullet holes. Another crime scene is marked near the 7-11 convenience store.
Xavier Mozejewski told NewsChannel 3 reporter Victoria Sanchez that he witnessed some of the violence and described it as an “old western shoot-out.”
Michael Vitak, a student from the Czech Republic, told Sanchez what he witnessed.
“Guys in a BMW. Maybe they were trying to prove they’re tough,” Vitak said during a live televised interview. Vitak saw them shooting at two girls; one was shot dead, the other was critically hurt.
“I heard shots, screams, pain,” said Vitak. “All emotions. I hope she is going to be fine,” he said.
Vitak said it was too dark to see the suspects’ faces.
About the same time the drive-by shootings occurred, the California Highway Patrol website logged a hit and run along Del Playa that left someone with major leg and head trauma.
NewsChannel 3 senior reporter John Palminteri said via phone, “It is a horrible scene out here.”
Palminteri described multiple ambulances, a black BMW that slammed into as many as two cars, and a body covered with a yellow tarp lying in the road on Del Playa. He indicated the deceased may have been shot by a deputy or police officer.
By 12:15 a.m. Saturday morning, Palminteri updated viewers that he’d seen a total of four body bags.
One woman identified as Sierra told Sanchez she was approached by two men in a black BMW. The driver flashed a small black handgun and asked ‘”Hey, what’s up?”‘
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown revealed new details about Friday night’s drive by shootings in Isla Vista during a Saturday morning news conference, including a new death toll and a possible link to an ominous YouTube video.
Brown said the initial call came in to dispatch at 9:27 p.m. Friday night as multiple gunshots.
Deputies in the area found several victims and received information about the suspect and vehicle involved.
Witnesses described seeing a black BMW speeding through the streets, spraying bullets at people and various targets near El Embarcadero and Segovia Roads and the top of the loop along Del Playa.
Brown said at 9:33 p.m. the suspect exchanged gunfire with deputies then veered down Del Playa and crashed into a parked car. Deputies found the suspect inside the BMW dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Brown said he did not know if the suspect was shot and killed by deputies or if the wound was self-inflicted.
The sheriff said a semi automatic handgun was recovered from the scene and believes the suspect acted alone.
From the Santa Barbara Independent
Originally published May 23, 2014, 10:00PM
According to the latest unconfirmed reports, three people were killed and seven injured in a series of Isla Vista shootings that occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Friday night. One of the suspects was also reportedly killed, and another is in custody. Multiple locations are being treated as crime scenes, most around the UCSB college town’s central loop.
The incident occurred at the I.V. Deli Mart, the 7-11 near the bottom of the loop, and on streets nearby, including the 6500 block of Del Playa, where one body lay beneath a tarp near a black BMW that was crashed near the curb with a broken windshield. This matched the description of the car that, according to multiple witnesses, carried the shooter. Other reports suggest that a bicyclist and other pedestrians may have been run over as well.
One of the incidents occurred on Embarcadero del Norte between Cordoba and Segovia roads, where a Santa Barbara City College student named Thomas said he heard as many as 20 gunshots.
A second crime scene was inside the Isla Vista Deli Mart, at 6553 Pardall Road, where the old Isla Vista Bookstore used to be. According to the deli’s owner, one of his customers, which he believed to be a male, was hit by bullets shot from a car outside the market and died on scene.
“This seems to be ground zero,” said The Santa Barbara Independent’s news editor Tyler Hayden, who was on scene, though he reported the response on the streets was mixed. “Some people are curious what the hell is going on, and others are cruising around with 18-packs.”
The Sheriff’s Office spokesperson would only confirm that there are multiple scenes and multiple victims and that the situation is fluid.
The third crime scene visited by Hayden was the 7-11 in the new Isla Vista Icon development. Two men in handcuffs were being questioned there in full view of a small crowd. That crowd cheered when one of them was put inside the law enforcement vehicle around 11:25 p.m. Officials said the men had refused orders to stay out of the crime scene areas.
Anecdotal yet unconfirmed reports from the Isla Vista streets suggest that the vehicle involved was a black BMW with a passenger shooting a handgun.
There appears to be another body under a tarp near 6583 Del Playa Drive, according to Hayden. Nearby is a black BMW, matching the description of the vehicle witnesses say was involved in the shooting spree, and its front windshield is smashed in.
From the Santa Barbara Independent
Originally published May 24, 2014, 4:00AM
A lone gunman killed six people and injured seven more during a shooting rampage Friday night in Isla Vista that Sheriff Bill Brown called “the work of a madman.” The suspect was killed after firing on responding deputies, but it’s not clear if the fatal wound to his head was self-inflicted or the result of return fire.
The seven injured victims are being treated at Santa Barbara Cottage hospital — some for gunshot wounds, others for trauma sustained when the suspect crashed his car as he was pursued — and one recently underwent surgery for life-threatening injuries.
Initial reports suggested that two suspects were involved in the shooting, but Brown said during a 2:30 a.m. press conference Saturday morning that the gunman acted alone. Brown said the man was armed with a semi-automatic handgun and that investigators are working to determine if other weapons were involved.
The names of the victims and the suspect have not been released. Brown, however, confirmed that written and video material left by 22-year-old Elliot Rodger of Calabasas in the hours and days leading up to the shooting is being reviewed as evidence in the massacre. “It appears to be connected,” he said.
In a YouTube video titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution” and posted the day before the shooting, Rodger — a Santa Barbara City College Student and Isla Vista resident, according to his social media accounts — laments his life of “loneliness, rejection, and unfulfilled desires.” He blames women for throwing themselves at “obnoxious brutes” but rejecting him, “the supreme gentlemen.”
Professor James F. Tracy is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. James Tracy’s work on media history, politics and culture has appeared in a wide variety of academic journals, edited volumes, and alternative news and opinion outlets. James is editor of Union for Democratic Communication’s Journal Democratic Communiqué and a contributor to Project Censored’s forthcoming publication Censored 2013: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2011-2012. Additional writings and information are accessible at memoryholeblog.com.