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

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Five Main Reasons I Chose Communications

Because I know people will forever hound me about "fake news".

I did an article a few weeks ago about “questions my family would ask” and my answers to them. One of the questions was as follows:

What’s your major?

  • Communications. Yes, I know to not get involved with fake news. To be honest I will do my best not to write about politics at all in my field because I want to get involved with entertainment journalism and meet new people and write about stuff I actually enjoy hearing about twenty-four seven.

This answer got me to thinking more about the fact that people may have a stigma against those going into the communications field. I know I for one have seen many articles doing “majors as _______” and the communication ones are humorous and true, saying that the communications slogan would be “trying to convince people your degree is worth something.” Honestly, it’s the truth. I feel as though many may have a negative impression when I say I want to go into the communications field. I can not count how many times someone has said “fake news” to me in some way shape or form, and it may make people hesitant to admit this is their passion. So this articles for you, if you wonder why in the world someone would donate so much time into something like this.

Learning on the Job.

I for one always had a passion for learning. School? Not until recently, but learning was always something I enjoyed. With communications, there are endless opportunities to learn about places, events, and people. You learn so much about history and settings which you may not otherwise think you would find interesting. Yes, you can learn on your own time, but being paid to learn about things that you may not otherwise open your mind up to- and things you do find fascinating, as well- is, to me, the perfect environment because there is always something new to introduce.

Meeting People.

I can’t think of a more interactive job than one which involves heavy communications skills. Journalism or public relations are so heavily involved in other people’s lives that it makes my life seem less boring. I believe the perfect example of this would be the 1998 film by Todd Haynes, Velvet Goldmine, starring Christian Bale. It follows a journalist who gets to travel all over New York and meet people in attempt to piece together a piece of mysterious history. Ironically enough, that wa the film that really made me want to go into journalism. The interviewing process is more often than not, highly intimate. You learn details about people you may otherwise never have met before, or crossed the street and not thought twice. Heck, you might have even let a door shut on them, but in that moment you’re sitting across from them hearing their entire life story.


Probably the most glamorous part of the communications field is being able to travel and meet the people I mentioned above. It is no secret that some of the most well known publications are nowhere near my home state of Virginia, but that’s okay! I look forward to taking that risk and living in New York. In my eyes, and probably a few other students’ as well, moving is part of the job, and all too worth it when you could get the chance to meet someone truly extraordinary. Personally, if I were to carry on in communications, my section would focus on the entertainment industry (films and the like) and so conventions are a big part of publicity and press. Being able to go there under the title “press” interview some of the biggest stars in horror or other films, interviewing Oscar nominees? There’s no opportunity if you stay grounded in your roots. You have to move to find the story.


And communications isn’t just for talking! You get to get involved with campaigns and marketing as well. It opens doors to getting work scene, making posters and merchandise for artists, commercial advertising, films, and so forth. There’s a truly creative aspect that comes with communications whether it be posters, presentations, or merchandising. It’s a real art form you don’t appreciate until you sit through a lecture on fonts.

Having a Voice

Okay, this ones a little cliche, but one of my personal favorite aspects of communications- mass communications- is being able to have a voice, be it in front of a small group or a big audience. It allows you to test yourself, and see where you really stand on certain aspects (yes, we are taking the political bullet here). It also allows you to spread your message and persuade others to think critically about what they believe. I believe that communications gives a very heavy sense of empathy which some (most) may lack, the understanding of other people and their sides to some issues, big or small. Once the message is out, it’s the ultimate gateway to compromise.

I use to be incredibly introverted, and going into the communications field has helped me to create another version of myself entirely. It opens doors to figuring out what your morals and ethics are, a road of self discovery, if you will. Communications isn’t just “fake news” and politics, it’s an entire world of never ending education and facts and learning, and while it may not be as glamorous as a lawyer or doctor, it is just a fascinating to the right people.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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Let's Arm the Teachers

.....with what they really need

The news is swirling and people seem to be losing their minds over school shootings (as they should be). From conversations on mental health to intense arguments on gun control, the national dialogue on school shootings has once again reached a peak. Survivors are seeking action by politicians now more than ever - although many have been fighting for change for decades.

The newest, most creative, "ah-ha" idea in many localities around the country is to arm teachers and administrators with guns to protect students. Whether this idea seems genius or like the stupidest thing you've ever heard, I am not concerned. Put it in a Facebook post.

I want to talk about a different kind of armament for teachers and school district employees. What if the government armed schools with the supplies, salary, and training to protect their students in a way in which they were capable of the positive mental, physical, and emotional development to protect them from a plethora of disasters including suicide, bullying, poverty, and, yes, school shootings? What if all teachers, not just private school teachers, were given the resources to properly support their students? This could lead to a compounding of armament meaning that students would be provided with the 'arms' (support and skills) they need to protect themselves from poverty, mental and physical illness, violence, etc.

Picture this, a student is struggling in school academically and socially. A teacher being paid sufficiently, with enough free time due to small class sizes, with the motivation and drive through proper training by their administrators, and with the extra supplies to help his or her students practice and understand class material is equipped to support the student emotionally and academically. This student, with this careful attention from the teacher improves in school socially and academically to become a productive member of society with some self esteem as icing on the cake.

The student without these resources falls through the cracks. He or she remains behind in school, emotionally damaged, and vulnerable to failure. Failure comes in many forms whether it be not graduating, not getting a job, falling into poverty, getting into trouble with drugs and alcohol, not having friends, deteriorating mental health, etc. These things are as much of a threat to one's life as gun violence. Furthermore, these things can lead to gun violence.

I do not agree with those who want to arm teachers with guns in order to protect students, but I do believe, although to a different degree, that education and strong teachers have great amounts of power in protecting the world. I believe it is possible, through funding and stronger infrastructure, for education, specifically public education, to protect students from violence inside and outside of school buildings themselves.

Overall, the politics of gun violence in America is complicated and wrought with many strong and conflicting opinions. I believe the most recent solution, to arm teachers, is complicated and dangerous, but my point has nothing to due with this discussion. I believe, though, that teachers should be armed with resources much more effective in the long run than guns. I believe in the power of teachers to keep students safe.

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