Whenever a young person engages in a mass shooting, media scrutiny immediately falls on the parents – particularly when, as with Elliott Rodger, there was a long history of mental illness. In this case, a checkered family history marked by consistent but sporadic attempts to find help ended in tragedy. Here is what we know about the shooter’s relationship with his parents:
His Parents Divorced When He Was 7. His mother, Li Chin Rodger, alleged in divorce documents that he had special needs, and was autistic. Peter alleged that he was not aware that Elliott was autistic. Elliott wrote in his manifesto, “I believe it was my mother who told me that she and my father were getting a divorce; my mother, who only a few months before told me that such a thing will never happen. I was absolutely shocked, outraged, and above all, overwhelmed. This was a huge life-changing event… a very sad day.” He added, “The family I grew up with has split in half, and from then on I would grow up in two different households. I remember crying. All the happy times I spent with my mother and father as a family were gone.”
He Was in Therapy from Age 8. We now know that Elliott Rodger had been undergoing therapy since age eight, but in adulthood had stopped taking his medication. During high school, he reportedly saw a therapist “pretty much every day,” and had lately seen two therapists. Rodger was living at the Independent Living Institute in Santa Barbara, which is designed for adults with disabilities. His grandmother said, “He was a very disturbed boy.”
He Hated His Stepmother. Rodger apparently wanted to murder his stepmother and stepbrother. He wrote, “It will be a hard thing to do, because I had really bonded with my little brother in the last year, and he respected and looked up to me. But I would have to do it. If I can’t live a pleasurable life, then neither will he! I will not let him put my legacy to shame… In order to kill him I would have to kill Soumaya too, but that will be easy. All I would need to do is think about all of the hurtful things she had said to me in that past as I plunge my knife into her neck.”
His father apparently brought Soumaya into his life shortly after the divorce: “My father having a girlfriend so shortly after divorcing my mother didn’t even occur to me. I couldn’t understand it. Soon enough, though, I realized that Soumaya was, in fact, his ‘girlfriend,’ and they were together just like how my father and mother were together. It was the first time I learned the concept of a ‘girlfriend,’ and it was hard to grasp. Before that, I always thought a man and a woman had to be married before living together in such a manner, and that it would take a long time for such a union to happen. Father finding a new girlfriend in such a short amount of time baffled me. I was completely taken aback.”
His Mother Called the Cops on Him on April 30. After Rodger posted videos of himself ranting about the injustices of life on YouTube, his mother called his therapist, who then called a Santa Barbara mental health hotline, who then called the police. They arrived and did not search the apartment – apparently because, since Rodger had never been committed, they had no authority under which to do so.
Peter Rodger and Former Wife Li Chin Drove to Santa Barbara on Friday. After seeing his latest video, titled “Retribution,” they drove to Santa Barbara in an attempt to find their son. They were unsuccessful.
The Rodgers Are “Crippled With Guilt.” According to family friend Simon Astaire, the parents can “barely string a sentence together” and are in the midst of “grieving for those innocents who lost their lives, above their own son.” He continued, “They are absolutely crippled by grief. I know them very well and it is incredibly hard to be in their company, because they are so distraught. It is hard to be near them because they are so devastated.”
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.