- (Photo: Screenshot via New Channel 3)
- (Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
Thousands gathered in the small, beachside college community of Isla Vista, near Santa Barbara, California, over the weekend to pray for the six killed and 13 injured as a result of a tragic shooting and stabbing spree that took place Friday night.
More vigils are planned to take place this week, including one candlelight memorial scheduled for the University of California Los Angeles on Monday evening.
The prayer vigil began Saturday at UC Santa Barbara's Storke Tower, with thousands of students and community members silently walking through campus to a nearby park in the small, unincorporated college community of Isla Vista to pray, light candles, and pay their respects to those killed in Friday's attack.
The event, sponsored by the Santa Barbara Response Network, UC Santa Barbara, and Associated Students, included uplifting speakers as well as singers, who performed "Amazing Grace." The vigil also included an "open mic" portion where students and community members could offer their thoughts on the tragedy.
More candlelight vigils are scheduled for Santa Barbara and nearby cities this week, including a memorial event on Monday evening at the University of California, Los Angeles. The event will take place at UCLA's Royce Quad at 8:00 p.m., and over 2,000 people have already RSVP'd to the event on Facebook.
Another vigil will also be held Monday for one of the victims shot Friday outside of the university's Alpha Phi sorority house, and a memorial service honoring the six victims will be held Tuesday at UC Santa Barbara's Harder Stadium. The university will also designate Tuesday a Day of Mourning and Reflection and classes have been canceled for that day.
The small beachside community of Isla Vista was hit with tragedy on Friday evening when 22-year-old suspect Elliot Rodger, son of film director Peter Rodger, allegedly stabbed his three roommates in his Isla Vista apartment before beginning a shooting spree on innocent victims throughout the small college town.
Rodger, who was a student of Santa Barbara Community College, allegedly drove his BMW 3 series coupe through the town, first shooting at young women gathered in front of the Alpha Phi sorority house near his apartment, killing two. He then drove to the IV Deli Mart where he shot his sixth victim, 20-year-old student Chris Ross Michaels-Martinez of Los Osos, Calif.
The suspect then allegedly drove his car down the main street of Del Playa Drive, reportedly reaching high speeds and hitting passersby and cyclists with his vehicle as he drove. He then engaged in a shootout with police and eventually crashed his vehicle into several other parked cars on the street. When police approached the car, they discovered Rodger had died from a gunshot wound that was possibly self-inflicted.
Prior to his Friday night rampage, Rodger had sent a lengthy document to his therapist outlining his reasons for the planned mass shooting. In part, Rodger explained in the document that he decided to kill his victims as a form of revenge for his lonely existence that he believed was a result of rejection by women.
"All of my suffering on this world has been at the hands of humanity, particularly women, it has made me realize just how brutal and twisted humanity is as a species," Rodger wrote.
Santa Barbara County Sherriff Bill Brown has described the suspect as "very mentally disturbed."