Parents of California victims angered by "broken" health, legal systems: WaPo

Sat Jun 21, 2014 6:31am EDT

Related Topics

(Reuters) - The families of three college students stabbed to death by a 22-year-old before he gunned down three more victims said the U.S. health and legal systems valued the rights of the mentally ill over those who become their victims.

Police said Elliot Rodger, the son of a film director, stabbed the students in his apartment on May 23, before shooting and killing three more victims in the town of Isla Vista near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara. He then shot himself.

"The system is clearly broken. It should have protected our sons, who were so innocent and trusting," Henry Hong, the father of Cheng Yuan "James" Hong, one of the victims, told the Washington Post in a joint interview with other victims' parents published on Thursday.

The parents are also angered over a lack of information released to them by police, by what they characterize as several missed opportunities for authorities to intervene, and expressed incredulity that Rodger could have overpowered their sons by himself, the newspaper reported.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said in a statement it "owes it to the victim's families and to the public to not prematurely release information before we have all of the facts in this case."

Police officers had visited Rodger just weeks before the killing spree, following a concerned call from a county mental health worker, and asked him about disturbing videos he had posted online. However, they did not check the videos or look for weapons, concluding after a ten-minute meeting he was not an immediate threat to himself or others.

Rodger later wrote a lengthy manifesto that he sent to his parents, therapist and several others, minutes before launching his shooting spree. In it he said that he was afraid the police would disrupt his plot during that encounter.

Rodger was seen by a variety of healthcare professionals, according to the county sheriff.

"They knew he had problems. Why couldn't they do more?" said Kelly Wang, the mother of George Chen, according to the Post. The third victim was David Wang.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Larry King)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (13)
bob611 wrote:
“victims said the U.S. health and legal systems valued the rights of the mentally ill over those who become their victims.”

Than stop voting in liberal democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid!

Jun 21, 2014 8:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
tkboxer wrote:
They need to change the way mental health is being reported by professionals and they need a universal database for that information. (This will NOT be a easy law to pass but needs to happen.)

Legal firearm owners that leave firearms unsecured around minors and are used in a crime by a minor should be prosecuted by law.
Leaving a firearm unsecured around a minor or person with mental health issues is irresponsible and against the law of common sense.
Even the NRA says secure firearms when not in use and enforce laws when tragedies happen due to lack of securing firearms.
There is a reason one cannot buy a firearm before the age of 18.

Jun 21, 2014 10:30am EDT  --  Report as abuse
frankkarlburn wrote:
Dear bob611, I don’t know if you know it, but it is the conservatives who are more against the idea of government interfering in individual rights. They would be more apt to just let risky people go on their merry ways before doing something, and even to allow them to purchase guns.

Jun 21, 2014 10:32am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.