A Psychotic Manifesto – Police Case Of Shooter Elliot Rodgers

A Psychotic Manifesto – Police Case Of Shooter Elliot Rodgers

2014 Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodgers's case was more than just horrifically insane.

Published from criminal justice class paper.

The horrific case of the 2014 Isla Vista killings stemmed from the lead up of criminal actions taken by Elliot Rodger, a 22-year old college dropout who lived in Isla Vista, California. His psychotic nature, haphazard rapes and vengeful killings were reported on nearly every news media in the country. Since then, his insane motives and the police’s response have come under the public's scrutiny. Even the popular TV series "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" (SVU) based an episode on Rodger’s bloodthirsty war on women. The SVU episode, analysis reports and media coverage all question the lack of police awareness and the forms of immediate action taken in response to the telling signs of Rodger’s mental instability and violent attack.

The police found crucial, publicly available evidence after it was too late.

Unlike the dramatized SVU episode, the actual rapist and killer Elliot Rodger died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Moreover, his manifesto totaled around 141 pages of premeditated plans of rape and murder, suspicions of which were further upheld by his montage of YouTube videos where he, like his parody TV character Holden March, laments the fact that women do not appreciate his self-assessed superiority over other men due to his "gentlemanly nature." Rodger often videotaped his reactions to watching couples, with one particular video titled, “Spring break sucks when you’re lonely,” in which he said, “My reaction to seeing a couple at the beach…envy.” If the signs weren’t clear then – as they were to even Rodger’s friends, family, and therapist who could also watch the videos – then his 137-page autobiographical essay which outlined his motives, his YouTube video titled “Retribution,” or the fact that he had been involved in countless fights (from conflicts with his parents, roommate, and random people at parties) should have raised warning flags.

But all this escaped the police’s notice until it was too late.

By the time the deputies searched Rodger’s room (a search that was considered illegal according to Isla Vista Mass Murder investigative summary) and found a horde of weapons, Rodger had already fired off 55 bullets with a trunk-load of guns left.

The police were unable to properly assess Rodger's mental and emotional stability.

The deputies first met with Rodger on April 30 at his mother’s request and reported, “There was nothing during the contact with [Rodger] that gave the deputies reason to believe he was a danger to himself or others.” Had the police even googled the disturbing videos Rodger’s mother had told them about, they would have found he was, indeed, very homicidal and suicidal in nature. This most certainly does raise questions regarding the lack of police concern to follow through, but it also highlights the misunderstandings associated with the police in general. While the police are essentially citizens and thus, can pick up on abnormal behavior like the average citizen may be able to, they are not free to do so as the average citizen. Not only do officers face the physical, mental, and emotional strains of their everyday job on a daily basis, but they are also often called to perform jobs that are not outlined in their job description – roles such as that of handymen or in Rodger’s case, counselors.

In most cases, officers are not trained to counsel the mentally ill or unstable.

There are a few, vague protocols regarding police interaction with physically and mentally disabled individuals, and thus, officers who do respond appropriately are either lucky that their method worked out or have prior experience they gained before or while on the job. Officers who do not respond in what the public deems an appropriate manner are officers who have erred, mainly because they do not have training in regards to this field. The general population undeniably discriminates against individuals with mental illnesses, and “survey responses indicate that police officers are a significant source of stigmatization and discrimination against persons with mental illness,” as well.

Officers, just like citizens, do not have advanced guidelines or training as psychiatrists do that detail how one should approach and interact with individuals who have mental illnesses, let alone those with psychotic disorders. Rodger’s own hoist of therapists appear to have made little progress over the years in calming his narcissistic and vendetta against women. The police can be held accountable for not following through with Rodger’s mother’s concerns about her son’s videos, but even so, it is understandable why they did not follow through because they, like everyone else around Rodger, did not think he was an actual risk.

But the police still could have detained Rodger if they had used discretion.

Predictive policing, which uses data to react to incident and patterns as well as predict them in order to take preventive or preemptive action, argues that the police should have arrested – or at the very least detained – Rodger based on his motives alone. Although the police were late on catching up with Rodger’s vicious motives and long-term misogynistic beliefs, they did take immediate action in searching his room (albeit, illegally) and attempting to corner him in Isla Vista. However, after the chase and discovery of Rodger’s dead body, the police faced another charge: their ignorance of Rodger’s gun purchases.

The Isla Vista report’s timeline revealed that there were 14 separate incidents which indicated Rodger’s preparation for his shooting spree, starting two years ago when “he spent nearly $2,500 between December 2012 and March 2013 purchasing guns and ammo from stores in Burbank, Goleta and Los Angeles.” Then in January 2014, a few months prior to the attack, Rodger became a regular visitor of gun ranges in Oxnard and neighboring areas, loading up on ammunition purchases in March. “This activity indicates the suspect was ‘ramping up’ in the planning and rehearsing stages prior to committing the crime on May 23, 2014,” the report said.

Rodger’s purchase of three guns would have been available in law enforcement databases, but “law enforcement experts said most departments don't have explicit rules requiring officials to check gun registration when officers perform welfare checks. That decision, they said, is often left to the discretion of officers.”

Sherriff Bill Brown acknowledges these errors and how this plays into the gun control debate.

The police’s failure to follow through in conducting a background check on Elliot Rodger – from simply checking out his YouTube videos and pulling up his gun purchases – may have prevented the rapes, crimes, and killings from even taking place.

The public scrutiny also shifted to gun shops, lauding particular criticism on laid-back gun laws and lax background checks. In the introduction to the Isla Vista report, Sherriff Bill Brown writes: “In California, we have some of the strongest gun control laws in the nation, yet in this case the suspect was still able to legally purchase and possess three handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.” The sheriff’s acknowledgement of the fact further spurned public uproar over gun laws, and cases like these continue to do so today. Society’s rejection of guns sounded out loud and clear through some voices in the Democratic Party.

Guns were a hot-topic at the 2016 presidential debate and are expected to remain as such until a mutual resolution can be found. Whether it’s tighter restrictions on gun shops, specialized focus and care of the mentally ill, or a special watch kept on those suffering from psychotic disorders, the resolution is expected to be as complex, expansive and interlinked as the problem is itself.

Cover Image Credit: NBC News

Popular Right Now

7 Truths About Being A Science Major


Whether your major is Human Bio, Chemistry, Neuroscience or any other that deals with a lot of numbers, theories, experiments and impossibly memorizing facts, you know the pressures of pursuing a career in this field. So without further ado, here are seven truths about being a science major:

1. There is no “syllabus week.”

Coming back to college in the fall is one of the best times of the year. Welcome week has become most students' favorite on-campus holiday. But then you have syllabus week: another widely celebrated week of no responsibilities… Unless you’re a science major that is. While your other friends get to enjoy this week of getting to know their professors and class expectations, you get to learn about IUPAC nomenclature of alkanes on the first day of organic chem.

2. Your heart breaks every time you have to buy a new textbook.

Somehow every professor seems to have their own “special edition” textbook for class… And somehow it’s always a couple hundred bucks… And somehow, it's ALWAYS required.

3. Hearing "attendance is not mandatory," but knowing attendance is VERY mandatory.

Your professor will tell you that they don’t take attendance. Your professor will put all lecture slides online. Your professor will even record their lectures and make those available as well. Yet if you still don’t go to class, you’ll fail for sure. Coming into lecture after missing just one day feels like everyone has learned an entire new language.

4. You’re never the smartest person in your class anymore.

No matter what subject, what class or what concentration, there will always be someone who is just that much better at it than you.

5. You get totally geeked out when you learn an awesome new fact.

Today in genetics you learned about mosaicism. The fact that somebody can have a disease in part of their total body cells but normal throughout all others gets you so hype. Even though you know that your family, friends and neighbors don’t actually care about your science facts, you HAVE to tell them all anyways.

6. There is never enough time in a day.

You are always stuck choosing between studying, eating, sleeping and having fun. If you're lucky, you'll get three of these done in one day. But if you're a risk taker, you can try to do all of these at once.

7. You question your major (and your sanity) almost daily.

This is especially true when it’s on a Tuesday night and you’ve already consumed a gallon of Starbucks trying to learn everything possible before your . Or maybe this is more prevalent when you have only made it through about half of the BioChem chapter and you have to leave for your three hour lab before your exam this afternoon. Regardless, you constantly wonder if all the stress is actually worth it, but somehow always decide that it is.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Yes, I’m A Math Education Major, And Yes I’m Struggling In My First Semester Of Calc

No, that does not make me any less qualified to be a math teacher.


So here I am. College. After years of excelling in math classes and realizing I want to pursue it in my life, I am finally able to do so, but guess what?

College math classes are not going to be my simple high school geometry class.

Okay, I did know this going into the major, and college in general, but I definitely did not expect to be challenged so quickly.

We did a quick trig review and hopped right in to it all, the crazy world of calculus, or so I thought.

After a little review we did limits, which is calculus, right? Apparently not, because after finishing the basic concepts of limits, our class was told, "Now it's time to get into actual calculus!"

So, wait. What we were just doing for the past week, the material that I struggled with and had to go to office hours every day for, isn't even actual calculus?

I was definitely a bit astonished, to say the least after hearing this, and frankly, I questioned myself.

Why am I here? I didn't even take calculus in high school because I was scared of a challenge and being less than perfect. Why would I ever think that I could be good enough for this?

This class isn't even considered hard enough to count towards my major! Why would I think I could understand all of the crazy courses I'll have to take throughout my college career in this major when I barely understood physics and got a 1 on the AP exam?

Why, why, why, why, why?

See, I was looking for answers and solutions to all of my problems and kept asking why, but I didn't think of things in the right math-y way that I should've. In math, often times to get the solution for why, or Y, you need to know X, which mean you need to understand the variables.

Sure, I have been having a bit of a rough time with what apparently isn't even calculus yet, but think of the variables. I'm not just living my normal, high school life with a harder class. I'm living a new, weird college life which involves much more than harder classes; money, laundry, new responsibilities: variables.

I'm living a totally different life, which is obviously going to take a toll on anyone. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving college so far, new people, more freedom, more challenging classes, and much more, but it also can be hard.

Along with all of the good variables that I mentioned, there is also the part that you are away from family and have many new, unique responsibilities that you were not expecting.

So, yes. I am a math education major, and yes, I am having some difficulty in calc that's not yet calc, but I am also trying, which is what sets me apart from those who could be in a similar situation and give up.

Instead of jumping ship and picking an easier major, I am challenging myself and pushing myself to the best of my ability because I know that I can.

Despite my struggles, I am still just as qualified as the student next to me acing the course without even trying, if not more, because this is a new experience to me.

I'm used to being the one who does well without tons of effort, but by seeing the work that has to go in, I am going to be much more appreciative of myself and my abilities.

Now that I have to truly work towards something, it will be that much more special to me in the end when I walk across the stage with a diploma and into a high school classroom for the first time with my name on the door.

Related Content

Facebook Comments