Sheriff’s Deputies Did Not Review Videos or Ask About Firearms in Welfare Check on Isla Vista Shooter Elliot Rodger
New details released last week by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department show that sheriff’s deputies did not conduct a weapons check, nor did they review a set of disturbing videos posted by Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger, when conducting a welfare check on April 30.
The welfare check occurred after someone who described themselves as a friend of Rodger contacted a county mental health staffer. According to a family friend, Rodger’s therapist had also contacted a mental health service in April after his mother expressed concerns over some of the videos he was posting, and the matter was referred to police.
Four sheriff’s deputies, as well as a UC Santa Barbara police officer and dispatcher went to Rodger’s apartment as part of the welfare check. They found a seemingly “shy, timid and polite” young man who said he was merely having trouble fitting in at school.
"Based upon the information available to them at the time, sheriff's deputies concluded that Rodger was not an immediate threat to himself or others, and that they did not have cause to place him on an involuntary mental health hold, or to enter and search his residence,” according to the statement released by the Sheriff’s Office. “Therefore, they did not view the videos or conduct a weapons check on Rodger."
Less than a month later, Rodger went on a killing spree that left six people dead.
Anna Eldridge, vice president of the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said deputies should have reviewed the videos, especially since their content is what prompted the calls to authorities in the first place. Former Los Angeles police captain Rick Wall agrees, saying it would have made for a more thorough investigation. Wall also said it would have been appropriate for deputies to ask Rodger about any guns he may have owned, but experts have said that a weapons check was not mandatory and that the decision to do so is often left up to the officers’ discretion.
Read more about the details released by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department here.