Families of Slain Isla Vista Victims Sue Santa Barbara County, Sheriff’s Department

The families of three victims killed in a violent rampage last year have filed a wrongful death suit against the County of Santa Barbara and its Sheriff’s Department, claiming they failed to heed numerous warning signs that the perpetrator was a danger to the public.

Elliot Roger, a 22-year-old student at UC Santa Barbara, killed six people during a shooting and stabbing spree in Isla Vista on May 23. He injured another 14 people before finally turning the gun on himself as authorities began closing in.

May 23 was not the first time that Roger had landed on law enforcement’s radar, however. A month earlier, four sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Roger’s apartment to conduct a welfare check after his therapist and a fellow student expressed concerns over disturbing videos he had posted online.

Despite the complaints, authorities did not review the videos, nor did they conduct a weapons check which may have revealed a cache of weaponry and ammunition that Roger had stockpiled in his apartment. Instead, they found Roger to be a “shy, timid and polite” boy who was simply having trouble fitting in at school. They determined that he was not an immediate threat to himself or others and left the complex.

Roger later scoffed at the incident in his manifesto, stating that his deadly plans would have been foiled if deputies had conducted a search of his room.

“With the devastating number of school shootings that have occurred in the recent past, the proper procedures should have been in place and followed,” said attorney Patrick McNicholas. “The decedents were placed in a position of increasing danger due to the Sheriff’s conduct at the welfare check.”

The plaintiffs’ children shared the apartment with Roger and were among his first victims. They have also filed suit against the apartment complex and Asset Campus Housing for failing to conduct a background check before assigning their children as Roger’s roommates.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department says it cannot comment on pending litigation, but expressed sympathy for the families. Representatives for the apartment complex have also refused to comment.

Read more about the wrongful death suit here.


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