Isla Vista Shooting: Echoes of David Attias
Similarities Abound Between I.V.’s Madmen, But What Could Have Been Done?
Originally published 3:00 p.m., May 24, 2014
Updated 11:35 a.m., May 27, 2014
While authorities are still sifting through the fragments of Rodger’s life, he made clear to the world in a chilling YouTube monologue filmed the day before his rampage that he was seeking revenge upon all the women who’d never seen fit to have sex with him and all the males who had more sexual pleasure than he had. In it, Rodger, 22, bitterly lamented his virginity and expressed enraged bewilderment that women were not interested in him — “a supreme gentleman”— but were instead “throwing themselves” at “obnoxious brutes,” and he vowed, between creepy theatrical chortles, to exact lethal retribution.
UCSB freshman with a long history of severe mental illness, plowed his black Saab into a crowded Isla Vista street, killing four and wounding others. Attias, who was filmed at the scene hopping around the dead bodies and proclaiming himself the “angel of death,” attributed his action to frustration over lack of sexual contact. Attias was tried for murder and achieved the rare distinction of being found not guilty by reason of insanity. Two years ago, Santa Barbara Judge Thomas Adams ruled that Attias had recovered his sanity and ordered him released from a state facility for the criminally insane. Presumably, he is still living in a supervised group home and receiving supervised therapy.
In addition, the fathers of both killers were successful in the television and motion-picture industry. Daniel Attias, David’s father, was an accomplished television director. Rodger’s father, Peter Rodger, was assistant director of The Hunger Games, both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, not to mention the writer and director of a documentary about the nature of god.
For UCSB, the Attias tragedy provided a much-needed wake-up call, prompting campus officials to, among other things, take more proactive steps in providing students alternative methods of recreation and letting off steam. While some of those programs have yielded modest but steady results, events of the past year clearly demonstrate that Isla Vista remains very much an urban pressure cooker and that effective adult control is, at best, equivocal................
SBCC vs. UCSBWhile the similarities between Rodger and Attias are striking — both drove black expensive cars that were reportedly paid for by their fathers (Attias a Saab, Rodger a BMW) — there is one obvious difference. Rodger moved to Santa Barbara to enroll at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), Attias at UCSB. This may appear a superficial distinction, but for those laboring to find long-term solutions to the urban dysfunction that is Isla Vista, it’s anything but. SBCC, now ranked the top city college in the nation — not just the state — has long been known as a backdoor into the UC system for low-achieving high school graduates. As community colleges throughout the state sought to weather the draconian budget cuts accompanying the Great Recession, they increasingly turned to recruiting out-of-state and out-of-country students to whom they could charge much higher tuition. Around town, SBCC is well-known as a magnet first for Chinese students and more recently those hailing from Sweden.
SBCC’s swelling enrollment of out-of-towners may have helped the school’s bottom line, but it’s taken a toll on Santa Barbara’s ever Darwinian rental housing market. Low-income Latinos who’ve traditionally called the lower Westside home have been feeling the pinch as area landlords have sought to maximize their investment by renting to better-heeled City College emigres instead. Likewise, the allure of Isla Vista has proved irresistible for growing legions of City College students. According to recent census reports, there are reportedly 3,000-5,000 of City College’s 23,000 students now living in Isla Vista. Certainly, the demand placed by these students on the area bus service is by far the most intense now confronting the Metropolitan Transit District.............