Isolated Son Worried Parents

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Late-Night Phone Calls, Online Posts Raised Concern Before California Rampage.

To keep her shy son Elliot from being lonely, Chin Rodger steadfastly arranged play dates for the fifth-grader, even as other children his age made plans of their own, classmates and parents said. When Elliot grew more frustrated and isolated as he got older, his parents nursed him through bouts of tearful anguish during late-night phone calls, according to the son’s writings.

The parents also arranged for counseling, according to investigators and family friends, and the son’s writings. Recently, his mother bought him a black BMW to help boost his confidence, a family friend said.

Chin and Peter Rodger, a British commercials director who also worked in film, divorced years ago but remained close to their 22-year-old son and fretted over the young man, including reaching out for help last month after seeing some of his disturbing online posts, according to investigators and family friends.

Even as generous and obliging parents aware of their son’s suffering, they had no idea that Mr. Rodger was amassing weapons and laying out a plan to kill, said a family friend in an interview.

Investigators say Elliot Rodger killed six University of California, Santa Barbara, students in a spasm of violence Friday night that shattered the college town of Isla Vista, about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Mr. Rodger allegedly stabbed to death three men in his apartment—including two who were his roommates.

Mr. Rodger then went to the Alpha Phi sorority where he banged on the door, investigators said. He moved on when nobody answered, allegedly shooting three young women standing outside the sorority house. Two of them, Katie Cooper, 22, and Veronika Weiss, 19—both members of another sorority—died. A third woman, whose identity hasn’t been released, lived.

Mr. Rodger then drove the streets of Isla Vista, shooting from the window of his BMW, allegedly killing another young male UCSB student, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, 20, who was inside a deli two blocks away, investigators said.

Thirteen others were injured in the gunfire, and Mr. Rodger was found dead in his car, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, investigators said.

In a YouTube video posted before the killings, Mr. Rodger looks into the camera in the car with him, with palm trees in the fading light outside, and explains his plan for “retribution” against women because they had rejected him. The video was published to YouTube on Friday, the day of the rampage. The post has since been removed.

Mr. Rodger’s parents “thought that he was vulnerable and that he might take his life or hurt himself, but not that he would hurt others,” said Simon Astaire, a writer and family friend. “They are so unbearably, deeply in grief.” Mr. Rodger’s family couldn’t be reached for comment, but a family lawyer and other family friends said Mr. Astaire had been appointed to speak for the family.

Investigators found 400 rounds of ammunition and three semiautomatic handguns in Mr. Rodger’s car—all purchased legally and registered to him, according to sheriff’s deputies. That came as a shock to his parents, who didn’t know he owned guns, Mr. Astaire said.

Elliot’s social isolation started from a young age, family friends said, noting that as a boy his mother, who is from Malaysia, took an active role in planning his social life.

In middle school and high school, he saw himself as suffering because he couldn’t get the attention he desired from girls, Mr. Rodger wrote. The family knew he was frustrated with his lack of attention from women, but not that he harbored deeply misogynistic ideas that were laid bare in a 141-page document that Mr. Rodger sent to about 20 people just before he allegedly carried out the murders, according to Mr. Astaire.

“He wasn’t aggressive,” Mr. Astaire said. “He was more of a sensitive child. There was frustration more than aggression.”

When high school and enrollment at a community college near his parents’ homes in the suburbs of Los Angeles went poorly, his parents decided he should move to Santa Barbara to start a new life at a local community college, Mr. Rodger wrote. But he dropped out of classes at Santa Barbara City College after he didn’t get the attention he sought from women, he wrote. Santa Barbara City College officials said he attended classes on and off.

According to Mr. Rodger’s circulated document, his parents last year took him to a psychiatrist, who prescribed Risperidone, an antipsychotic commonly used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

In his writings, Mr. Rodger explained how he sought to hide his aggressive side so as not to give away his plan, which he said he began contemplating in 2012. A few weeks ago, his mother noticed some disturbing YouTube videos he had posted. She called his therapist in Santa Barbara, who alerted authorities, according to sheriff’s investigators, the family friend and Mr. Rodger’s writings.

Mr. Rodger explained in his writing that he lied to police when they asked if he had suicidal thoughts, and wrote that he was relieved the police never searched his room. If they had they would have discovered documents outlining his plans, and his weapons, according to his writings.

Although his family and police didn’t believe Mr. Rodger was a danger to others, his online posts provoked worry among others. On a body-building forum where Mr. Rodger was a prolific poster recently, he attracted attention in the past week for some of his outrageous posts and links to YouTube videos, according to a cached web page viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

a 28-year-old Hawaii resident, said in an interview Saturday that Mr. Rodger’s videos and forum posts struck him as alarming.

“I was actually worried something like this might happen,” the poster said. “He sounded like a narcissist. He was blaming everybody else for his problems when it was really his fault but he couldn’t see that.”

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