May 23, 2014: The Isla Vista Killing Rampage


On May 23, 2014, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger went on a shooting and stabbing spree, killing 6 people and injuring 14 before committing suicide.

Rodgers started by stabbing 3 men to death one-by-one in his apartment. Upon leaving, he went to a sorority house but was unable to get inside. After that, he just began shooting anyone he could, killing 2 women outside of the sorority house and shooting people from his car while driving through Isla Vista.

Despite exchanging gunfire with police, ultimately it was he who took himself down, crashing into a parked car and shooting himself in the head.

Before heading over to the sorority house, he uploaded a YouTube video called "Elliot Rodger's Retribution" and, surprise! He was an incel. (An incel is a person who is "Involuntarily Celibate" who believes it isn't their unattractive or their sweet pad in their mom's basement that turns girls off, but that the girls are the problem.) The video detailed the plan of his attack and explained that he wanted to punish women for not wanting to have sex with him, and men for being able to have sex with those women. He also emailed a manifesto to those close to him, furthering my claim that anyone who writes a manifesto is bad news.

In his manifesto, he talked about his childhood, conflicts with his family, frustration because no girls wanted to date him and thus, his hatred of women, his disgust for couples, particularly interracial couples, and his plan for his attack.


Rodgers was born in London, England on July 24, 1991, and moved to the United States with his family when he was 5. He was raised in Los Angeles. His father was a successful filmmaker who worked as an assistant director for films such as The Hunger Games. His mom was Malaysian Chinese, and worked as a research assistant for a film company.

He had a younger sister, but shortly after she was born, his parents divorced. His father remarried, this time a Moroccan actress, and they had a son together.

He attended an all boys Catholic high school (which probably has something to do with his struggles to get a girlfriend, no?) and graduated in 2009. He briefly attended Los Angeles Pierce College and Moorpark College, before moving to Isla Vista in July of 2011 to attend Santa Barbara City College. He had dropped out before his killing spree.

Rodgers had been in therapy for different ranges of time since he was 8 years old, receiving psychiatric treatment, according to the family's lawyer. Despite this, he was never formally diagnosed with any mental illness. He was prescribed an antipsychotic used primarily to treat schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, but he didn't take it.

His mother claimed he had Aspergers, but that was never corroborated by a medical diagnosis, but was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2007.

By the time he reached high school, Rodgers was being bullied. He wrote that he cried every day at school. At one point, he had his head taped to a desk while he was asleep. He had one friend and at some point, that friend told him he didn't want to be friends anymore. He maintained a YouTube account and blog which expressed his loneliness and rejection.

Once he turned 18, any hope at curbing his mental illness seemed to be lost when he continually rejected any mental health care, and started to isolate himself. Though he claims he was unable to make friends, acquaintances said that he would not really allow others to be friendly with him. Screenswriter Dale Launer, a friend of the family, tried to counsel Rodger on how to meet women, but he didn't take his advice. After the shootings, he said that he knew something was wrong with him, but thought that he was just a shy kid trying to come out of his shell.

His violent behavior didn't begin and end with the shooting. In 2011, Rodger followed a couple out of Starbucks and threw coffee on them because he was jealous. He also splashed coffee on 2 girls when they didn't smile at him. And in 2012, he purchased a SUPER SOAKER and filled it with ORANGE JUICE and sprayed a group playing kickball at the park. He really showed them.

He also wrote about a 2013 incident in which he tried to shove some girls over a ledge at a party because they "mocked him", and in return, was thrown over the ledge himself. He tried to come back to retrieve the Gucci sunglasses he left behind but when he came back, everyone was mean to him and beat him up. (Which seems very fair if he was trying to toss girls over a 10-foot ledge.) When he came home, a neighbor recalls Rodgers saying he was going to kill those men, and then himself. An officer investigated the incident, but ultimately decided that he was probably the aggressor. He cites this incident as his trigger for the attack.

In January of 2014, the year of the killings, he performed a citizens arrest on his roommate because he stole some of his candles. His roommate, Hong, was arrested and charged with petty theft.

On April 30, 2014, a few weeks before the attack, Rodgers' parents contacted police after finding some concerning online behavior and his manifesto. They told police that he had planned some murders and had even purchased guns. But when he was investigated, they did not find any reason to hold him.

In his manifesto and other online activity, he complained about being rejected by women and explained that he envied sexually active men. He detailed his attacks. He claimed he was "forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires because all girls have never been attracted to me". He detailed that he was a 22-year-old virgin who had never kissed a girl. He referred to himself as "the supreme gentlemen" and then wondered why girls had never been attracted to him. He said he needed to punish everyone for throwing themselves at obnoxious men and not him, the perfect guy. (Note to men: If you believe you are the supreme gentlemen and yet, no one has ever been interested in you even once, perhaps you are not).

He detailed his hatred for interracial dating as the child of an interracial couple, and said that his mixed race made him different from "normal fully white kids".

He said he couldn't believe black men could get white women to date him when he couldn't even pull off such a task as a beautiful half white men who descended from British aristocracy! The horror! And, he believed in a perfect world, women would be quarantined in concentration camps and staved to death. He would watch them all die from a tower above.


Rodgers said in his manifesto that he would lure some men into his apartment and kill them, for they were able to have intercourse with women and he was not and thus, they must die. And then, he would go kill the women who represented everything he hated about women, a sorority full of the "hottest" women on campus.

He started at his apartment on May 23, 2014, and stabbed 3 men before the shootings began. He killed his candle stealing roommate Cheng Hong, his other roommate, Weiham Wang, and their friend George Chen. (Nice lure, dude. You got your roommates to come inside their own home.)

Through some physical evidence, police were able to piece together what happened, but the bodies were not found until 1 AM the following morning, after the shootings. At least one of the men were attacked while entering the apartment, as there were bloodstains in the apartment hallway. The bodies of his 2 roommates were found in their shared bedroom, while their friend was killed in the bathroom.

In a pretty creepy detail, it is believed that they all entered the apartment separately, each being murdered and then hidden so the next to enter wouldn't know what had happened before.

After stabbing and killing 3 people, he went to Starbucks (the coffee bandit strikes again?) and uploaded his retribution video. He sent his manifesto via email at 9:18 PM, and then went to begin his shooting spree.

He went to the Alpha Phi sorority house on campus and knocked on the door for a few minutes, but nobody answered. He became enraged, and began shooting anyone who was nearly. He shot and killed 2Delta Delta Delta sorority sisters, injuring a 3rd.

He got back into his car, angry that the object of his rage didn't open the door, and began shooting out of his car window, first at a coffee shop. Then he shot inside a Deli Mart, killing 1 student who was inside. Police were following him now, but he was able to escape.

He continued driving, this time on the wrong side of the street, and hit a pedestrian crossing the street and shot at 2 others on the sidewalk, but missed them both. He shot a couple leaving a pizzeria and a woman on her bike. He shot at another woman but missed, and then began shooting at police. He hit 2 more pedestrians while driving.

He shot and wounded 5 more people, hit 2 skateboarders and 3 cyclists while continuing to drive through the Isla Vista streets. Finally, he was found at 9:35 PM, but he was dead inside of his car from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He killed 6 people, 3 from stabbing and 3 from shooting, and injured 14 others with his car and his gun.

In the media reports after the rampage, it became evident that his family had attempted to intervene the night of the rampage. He had sent his manifesto to his therapist who alerted his family and then they saw the video on YouTube. His mother, father and his father's wife all frantically tried to drive to Santa Barbara, and they called the police. Apparently, the manifesto said that he would be committing his crimes the following day so they thought they may have stopped him. Unfortunately, on their way there, they heard news of the rampage and found out it was their son involved.

All 6 people killed were students at USCB, and they all died on the scene of the attacks. 20-year-olds Cheng Yuan Hong and Weihan Wang were Rodgers' roommates whom he stabbed in their apartment. 19-year-old George Chen was merely their friend and had come over with them.

Weihan had 15 stab wounds and 23 incision wounds in his head, neck, chest, back, both arms and hands. Cheng had 25 stab wounds and 12 incision wounds, and George had 94 stab wounds and 11 incision wounds to the same places.

The 3 students who were killed by gunshot were 22-year-old Katherine Cooper, 19-year-old Veronika Elizabeth Weiss (the sorority sisters), and Christopher Michaels-Martinez, 20, who was shot in the Deli Mart.

Among the injured were: Megan Carloto, 22, shot on her bicycle; Antoine Cherchian, 24, shot multiple times; Keith Cheung, 21, hit by car while cycling; Bianca de Kock, 20, shot with sorority sisters; Patrick Eggert, 19, hit by car while cycling; Jin Fu, hit by car; Victor Garcia, hit by car; Elliot Gee, hit by car while skateboarding; Christopher Hoang, shot multiple times; Mitchell Lyubarsky, 21, hit by car; Bailey Maples, shot; Nick Pasichuke, 19, hit by car while skateboarding; Matthew Smith, shot multiple times; Aaron Zaglin, 22, shot.

11 of the injured were taken to hospitals and 3 did not require hospitalization. 2 were admitted in serious condition. By June 14, less than a month after the attacks, all of the surviving victims were released from the hospital.


The airing of the "Retribution" video was controversial, as some believed it may trigger copycat crimes.

The shooting, as most do, renewed calls for gun control improvements and improvements to mental health services in the US. Parents of the victims partially blamed the attacks on politicians and the NRA who fought for the gun laws that allowed Rodgers to get his hands on the weapon he would use to kill half of his victims. An investigation was called for that looked into the April 30 contact police had with Rodgers on the behest of his parents. They did not know he had a gun, and had not watched the YouTube videos he had posted.

In a reaction that is a bit different than the run of the mill post shooting reactions, the conversation was heavily geared towards misogyny and violence against women, as he specifically said he was committing the crime because he was angry that women didn't want to have sex with him.

He was active on online forums dedicated to the hatred of women for that very reason, like PUAHate and r/foreveralone. He was subscribed to various pick-up artist channels on YouTube, and referred to himself as an Incel. (And, many in the Incel community applauded him for his deadly rampage.)

He was called the "virgin killer" (which sounds like he kills virgins, not that he was a virgin) but the name was objected by many, including Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams who said it further reinforced gender roles, and made it seem like aggression is due to lack of female sexual encounters. And though some believed he was not actually misogynistic because he killed men too, he killed them because he was mad women would have sex with them and not him, so it seems to support the same message.

Though hatred for women and misogynistic ideals weren't the only reason for his spree, coupling the hatred for women with a history of untreated mental health issues and access to weapons, you've got yourself a killer.

His shooting sparked the #NotAllMen hashtag on Twitter, in which men tried to convey that not all men are women haters or will commit murder. (And like, yeah, duh. Can't we express our anger that someone who did hate women murdered a bunch of people because he couldn't get laid without all other men thinking it is about them?)

While most people believe what he did was despicable, he has a fairly solid group of loyal fans online. Also incels, they tried to sell T-shirts of his face that said "supreme gentleman" and idolize his behavior (though some disavow him). And I guess it makes sense. When you're a sad, lonely "nice guy" who hates women because you actually are obsessed with them but they're not interested and you have convinced yourself that it has nothing to do with YOU and everything to do with THEM, perhaps a man who took it upon himself to punish those pesky girls who don't want to have sex with a Cheeto-fingered loser with nothing at all to offer would become your hero.

Incels are still, sadly, alive and well. While there are some garden variety misogynists out there who just dislike women but aren't as aggressive about it, there is a whole community of men out there, stroking their neckbeards wondering why hot women don't want to come play 27 straight hours of video games with them. They see both the women who don't want to have sex with them, and the men who those women do want to have sex with, as enemies number 1 and 1, and refuse to take any responsibility for themselves, believing that they are the perfect specimen and not understanding why no one would want to be with them. I guess when you are that fundamentally screwed up, a knife and a gun seem like the only solutions.

This shooting is a case of a lot of bad things intersecting. A racist, sexist woman-hater with an untreated mental illness, access to guns, online support of his racist/sexist ideals and the lucky break of police not seeing what he was capable of. And all of those things came together and tragically took the lives of 6 young, innocent students, 6 years ago today.



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