Deputies who handled a “welfare check” on Elliot Rodger about three weeks before his murderous rampage that left six dead, followed department policy as well as state law, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department said Thursday.
The department released new information for the first time pertaining to the April 30 welfare check, which some have criticized as a missed opportunity to intervene and potentially stop the rampage.
Four deputies, a UC Santa Barbara police officer and a dispatcher-in-training were sent at 10:17 p.m. to the Isla Vista apartment in the 6500 block of Seville Road where Rodger lived. The deputies were responding to a call from a mental health staff member assigned to answer the Santa Barbara County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Toll Free Access Line.
The staff member said she had been contacted by a person who identified himself as "a friend of Elliot Rodger," according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies who were not assigned to the call, but who were familiar with Rodger as a victim in a January 2014 petty theft case, also decided to respond.
Deputies described Rodger as “shy, timid and polite” in their interaction with him that night.
“When questioned by the deputies about reported disturbing videos he had posted on-line, Rodger told them he was having trouble fitting in socially in Isla Vista and the videos were merely a way of expressing himself. Based upon the information available to them at the time, deputies concluded that Rodger was not an immediate threat to himself or others, and that they did not have cause to place him on an involuntary mental health hold, or to enter or search his residence. Therefore, they did not view the videos or conduct a weapons check on Rodger,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a written statement.
A deputy called Rodger’s mother and briefed her on the situation, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Rodger, according to reports, then briefly spoke to his mother. In the conversation, deputies say he told his mother that “he was fine and that he would call her later.”
Deputies spent 10 minutes with Rodger, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
The Sheriff’s Department on Thursday also released a timeline detailing when law enforcement officials were made aware of Rodger’s chilling YouTube video and his 137-page manifesto.
Rodger uploaded his final YouTube video, “Retribution,” at 9:17 p.m. on Friday, May 23, 10 minutes before he fired the first shots. At 9:18 p.m., Rodger emailed his manifesto to several people, including his parents and therapist. According to the Sheriff’s Department, Rodger’s therapist saw the email at approximately 10 p.m. and contacted the sheriff’s department by 10:11 p.m. — by that time, the rampage had been over for more than 25 minutes.
The Santa Barbara Police Department contacted Rodger’s mother for more information. That information was subsequently forwarded to county sheriff’s detectives at approximately 10:26 p.m., at which time they first viewed the “manifesto” and “Retribution” video, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
“This is one of the most complex investigations in the history of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff's detectives are conducting numerous interviews and processing a huge amount of evidence in the case,” the Sheriff’s Department said.