The families of three young men stabbed to death in last year's Isla Vista massacre are suing the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department and the apartment housing company, saying they never fully investigated gunman Elliot Rodger as a threat despite a slew of red flags.
Rodger killed UC Santa Barbara students David Wang, 20, James Hong, 20, and George Chen, 19, in the apartment he shared with two of them, before he began a rampage that left three other students dead and over a dozen hurt across the seaside town of Isla Vista on May 23, 2014. All three went to high schools in either Fremont or San Jose in the Bay Area.
"Deliberate killing of innocent life is the lowest of all lows and the darkest of all evils," Wang's mother Kelly said Tuesday. "It should be crushed with no excuse."
The victims' families are suing the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department for negligence and violation of due process over several incidents, including when deputies didn't search Rodger's apartment during an April 30, 2014, wellness check after being flagged by a health worker about a series of disturbing videos he posted on YouTube.
At the time deputies showed up to the apartment, Rodger had a cache of weapons and ammunition in his room, according to the suit. After the wellness check, Rodger wrote in a manifesto that if deputies had searched his room, "that would have ended everything," the lawsuit says.
The department previously admitted last year that deputies had known about Rodger's YouTube videos but had not watched them. Deputies who responded to the check found him "shy, timid and polite" and had him call his mother to tell her he was OK before leaving him.
Deputies asked Rodger about the disturbing videos he had posted online, which Rodger said were a way for him to express himself after having trouble "fitting in socially in Isla Vista," but they did not, view the videos.
U.S. & World
"There (were) many stages along the way that this could've been prevented," Wang's attorney Todd Becker said.
The sheriff's department said Tuesday it would not comment on the pending litigation.
The lawsuit also claims that Capri Apartments, which primarily houses UCSB and Santa Barbara Community College students, failed to warn the roommates of Rodger's dangerous tendencies, especially given that he had earlier conflicts with several others who lived with him in the complex.
The suit says that after all the "bizarre behavior," Capri didn't investigate Rodger or do a background check before assigning Hong and Wang to live with him.
"Virtually all of the content Rodger had posted online was easily discoverable with simple Google searches of his name," the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, in August 2011, Rodger confronted his two Hispanic then-roommates, whom he "considered 'rowdy, inferior, pig-faced thugs,'" insulting them and telling them he was superior. Rodger went to the leasing manager and "explained everything that happened," and he later sign a lease for another, larger apartment, the suit says.
The next month, Rodger moved in with a new roommate, with whom he eventually developed a "hostile" relationship, according to the lawsuit.
In September 2012, Capri management heard Rodger throwing a "wild tantrum" and thrashing furniture with a "wooden practice sword," and the complex later assigned new roommates to live with him, according to the lawsuit.
During the time Rodger lived at the complex, he purchased weapons under his own name and posted threatening rants on the Internet, as well as complained to a Capri neighbor that he "was going to kill" himself and a group of students who upset him at a party, according to the lawsuit.
Capri declined to comment to NBC4.
On May 23, 2014, Rodger emailed his family and therapist his manifesto, and uploaded a video to YouTube titled "Elliot Rodger's Retribution" that outlined his attack plan.
Rodger then stabbed to death his two roommates and their friend, then opened fire on the busy college town of Isla Vista where he killed three more students and himself.