LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The father of a man who killed six people in a California college town said in a television interview that his son’s rampage came as a surprise, despite contentions by some victims’ families that the attack might have been prevented.
Peter Rodger, a Hollywood film director, told Barbara Walters in an interview set to air Friday on ABC’s “20/20” that prior to the shooting he did not believe his son, Elliott, 22, could “hurt a flea.”
Elliot Rodger stabbed three men to death in his apartment in the town of Isla Vista on May 23 before fatally shooting three more people near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara. He then shot and killed himself.
“We didn’t see this coming at all,” Rodger told Walters in the “20/20” interview according to a partial transcript released by the network.
Rodger said he was struggling with the knowledge of what his son had done.
“When you go to sleep normally, you have a nightmare and you wake up and, ‘Oh, everything’s OK,’” he told ABC. “Now I go to sleep, I might have a nice dream. And then I wake up and it‘s, slowly, the truth of what happened dawns on me. And you know, that is that my son was a mass murderer.”
Police had gone to Rodger’s apartment just weeks before the killing spree and asked him about disturbing videos he had posted online.
The visit was at the request of a mental health worker who had been in contact with Elliot Rodger’s mother, who is divorced from his father, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said in statement last month.
But police did not check the videos or look for weapons, concluding Rodger was not an immediate threat to himself or others, and left after speaking to Rodger’s mother by phone, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Rodger sent a lengthy manifesto to his parents, therapist and others, minutes before launching his shooting spree. In an interview with “CBS This Morning,” the parents of two men Rodger stabbed to death, George Chen, 19, and David Wang, 20, said they were angered by the media attention given to Elliot Rodger.
Johnny Chen, the father of George, told CBS that Rodger’s parents had not tried to contact their families.
“We want to hear some personal condolence and apologize and this is the minimum they should do,” Johnny Chen told CBS.
CBS reported that after its reporters reached out to Peter Rodger, he sent the families a letter. Rodger family friend Simon Astaire confirmed that Peter Rodger had sent a letter but he said he could not provide a copy of it.
Last week, in an interview published by the Washington Post, the families of the three stabbing victims said they were angered by several missed opportunities for authorities to intervene to stop Rodger.
Jane Wang, the mother of David, told “CBS This Morning” she believed her son’s killing might have been prevented.
“There were several opportunities missed,” she told CBS.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bill Trott