2014 Isla Vista rampage earns Elliot Rodger a chilling title — first alt-right killer

Eliot Rodger killed six people and injured 14 others in a rampage near UC Santa Barbara in May 2014 after being inspired by a misogynistic online forum.
Eliot Rodger killed six people and injured 14 others in a rampage near UC Santa Barbara in May 2014 after being inspired by a misogynistic online forum.

The Isla Vista man who killed six people near UC Santa Barbara in 2014 was the first alt-right killer, according to a new Southern Poverty Law Center report.

The nonprofit organization — which tracks extremists and hate groups — published a report on Monday classifying 22-year-old Elliot Rodger’s Central Coast killings as the first in a series of similar crimes committed by men known for their far-right viewpoints.

In May 2014, Rodger — a Santa Barbara City College student — killed his roommates and their friend before taking to the streets of Isla Vista, where he first pounded on the door of a UC Santa Barbara sorority house. When he couldn’t get into the house, he drove around shooting people with a handgun and intentionally hitting them with his car, according to a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office investigative summary.

He exchanged gunfire with sheriff’s deputies before eventually shooting himself in the head while driving, causing his vehicle to crash into a parked car.

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Christopher Michaels-Martinez, in his 2012 SLO High yearbook photo.

Ultimately, Rodger injured 14 people in addition to the six he killed.

One of the men Rodger shot to death was 20-year-old Christopher Michaels-Martinez, a San Luis Obispo High School graduate attending UC Santa Barbara. Richard Martinez, Michaels-Martinez’s father, has since dedicated his life to advocating for stronger gun control laws, to prevent future killings.

Rodger’s alt-right connections

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report, titled “The Alt-Right is Killing People,” classifies Rodger as an alt-right killer based mainly on his hatred of women and interactions with PUAhate, a misogynistic online forum.

Rodger left behind a collection of YouTube videos and a 137-page manifesto detailing his loneliness, hatred of women and extreme jealousy of men in relationships with women. He also expressed racially charged views, especially anger toward interracial couples.

The manifesto and videos also detailed his plan to carry out a “Day of Retribution,” when he would kill the women he hated and the men he envied.

San Luis Obispo County resident Richard Martinez talks about his son Christopher Michaels-Martinez, one of the victims in Elliot Rodger’s killing spree, during a memorial service on May 27, 2014 at UCSB. Since the death of his son, Martinez had dedicated his life to reducing gun violence. Chris Carlson AP

After the Isla Vista killings, material from Rodger’s manifesto began to appear on alt-right websites. Users took excerpts from his writings to support their extreme racism and misogyny.

The SPLC uses Rodger as an example of how even casual interactions with hate-filled online forums can lead users to act on their extreme views. In his manifesto, Rodger wrote PUAhate posts “only confirmed many of the theories I had about how wicked and degenerate women really are.”

The SPLC also links Rodger to Chris Harper-Mercer, who killed nine people and injured at least seven others at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, in October 2015. Both left behind manifestos detailing their anger and highlighting their frustrations about their lack of relationships with women.

“Anonymous and disparate interaction with online extremist content, frequently without any real-world connection to hate groups or far-right extremism, is becoming an established pattern for those on the alt-right who have gone on to commit acts violence,” according to the SPLC report.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden

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