June 27, 2014 / 7:35 PM / 3 years ago

Father says learned son had slain six in California via the Internet

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The father of a 22-year-old man who killed six college students in a stabbing and shooting rampage near Santa Barbara, California, said in an interview that he initially thought his son was one of the victims and learned the grim truth only on the Internet.

Peter Rodger, an assistant director on the film “Hunger Games,” told ABC’s Barbara Walters in an interview set to air Friday on the network’s “20/20” program that he felt anger toward his dead son, Elliot, and was trying to find love and forgiveness for him.

“But at the same time I‘m haunted by this disease, this human being that changed and became something else,” he said.

Asked if there were times he wished his son had never been born, Rodger said: “That’s a loaded question because part of me says yes. And the reason is (that) he did an awful lot of harm to young men and young women who didn’t deserve to die.”

Rodger said that in the confusion following the May 23 slaughter in Santa Barbara he believed Elliot had been one of the people slain by an unidentified attacker.

“I thought he was a victim. And it wasn’t until 4:35 a.m. that I found out by going on the Internet that he was the main suspect,” a tearful Rodger said in a video clip of the interview posted on ABC’s website.

“And there was only one killer. And when I saw that, it was like it’s one’s worst nightmare. I can’t describe the feelings,” he said.

Elliot Rodger, a college dropout, stabbed three men to death in his apartment in the town of Isla Vista before fatally shooting three more people near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus and committing suicide.

In clips of the interview released on Thursday, Rodger said that he had not seen the act of violence coming from his son, despite contentions by some victims’ families that the attack might have been prevented.

Police had gone to Rodger’s apartment just weeks before the killing spree, at his mother’s request, and asked him about disturbing videos he had posted online.

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, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Trott

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