By Kate Mather and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Elliot Rodger claimed a group of men called him a homophobic slur during an altercation at an Isla Vista party nearly a year before his deadly rampage in Santa Barbara, according to newly released police records.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department report sheds new light on the July 20, 2013, incident in Isla Vista, in which deputies investigated Rodger’s claims he was pushed off a 10-foot ledge and then attacked. The report characterized the incident as a potential hate crime because Rodger said one of the attackers called him a derogatory term for a gay person.
Authorities determined it was Rodger who was the aggressor and dropped the case, sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover previously told the Los Angeles Times. In fact, one witness told authorities Rodger tried to push several people off the ledge for no apparent reason, according to the report.
The July altercation was the first of three interactions he had with Santa Barbara sheriff’s deputies before his rampage. The report raises new questions about why the Sheriff’s Department didn’t pursue an investigation of Rodger about the party incident.
Rodger wrote about the incident in his 137-page diatribe that surfaced after his May 23 attack, which left six University of California, Santa Barbara, students dead.
That night, Rodger told the deputies, he was at a house party on Del Playa Drive when he “got into a verbal altercation” with four men.
“During the altercation, he called one of the subjects ‘ugly’ prior to being pushed off a 10-foot-high ledge,” the report said.
Rodger said he stumbled to a nearby yard and sat down in a chair, according to the report. Several minutes later, he said, 10 men approached him, telling him to “Get the … out of here.”
“He said the subjects then grabbed him and dragged him toward the driveway kicking and punching him,” the report said. “He said he was able to punch one of the subjects before they stopped attacking him.”
Rodger suffered injuries to his forearms, elbows, knuckles and left ankle, the report said.
Rodger told the deputies he didn’t know why he had been attacked. When asked why he didn’t call police, the report said, he said he “didn’t know who to call.”
“During my contact with Rodger he appeared to be not forthcoming with me,” the deputy wrote. “He appeared timid and shy and would not go into great detail about what had occurred.”
However, a witness told deputies a man matching Rodger’s description had come to his friend’s house that night and “began to push two females” who were on top of the 10-foot ledge. The witness said he caught one of the girls before she fell; the other managed to drop to the ground before falling.
The man then pushed two more people, the witness said, before jumping off the ledge and running off.
The witness said he didn’t know what provoked the man, the report said. He said the man was alone at the party, that his “demeanor was strange and he did not appear to be socializing.”
In his own writing, Rodger admitted to trying to push the partygoers.
“I tried to push as many of them as I could from the 10-foot ledge,” he wrote. “It was one of the most foolish and rash things I ever did, and I almost risked everything in doing it, but I was so drunk with rage that I didn’t care.”
Rodger said a group of men then started to push him, causing him to fall to the street below. When he realized he was missing his Gucci sunglasses, he wrote, he tried to go back to the party but ended up in the front yard of the house next door.
There, he wrote, he encountered another group of people who “greeted me with vicious hostility,” calling him names and a homophobic slur.
“A whole group of the obnoxious brutes came up and dragged me onto their driveway, pushing and hitting me,” he wrote. “I wanted to fight and kill them all. I managed to throw one punch toward the main attacker, but that only caused them to beat me even more. I fell to the ground where they started kicking me and punching me in the face.”
“Eventually, some other people from the street broke up the fight,” he continued. “I managed to have the strength to stand up and stagger away.”
Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/MCT