California shooter Elliot Rodger, like James Holmes in Colorado and Adam Lanza in Newtown, Ct., was a young loner with no criminal history who went on a shooting spree, leaving devastated families in his wake. Mass murderers tend to have a history of pent-up frustration and failures and are socially isolated and vengeful, blaming others for their unhappiness, experts tell the Associated Press. “They all display deluded thinking and a lot of rage about feeling so marginalized,” said psychology Prof. James Garbarino of Loyola University Chicago. There’s no way to predict who will reach a breaking point and take action.
Past violence is a clue, but in Rodger’s case, police did not see him as a threat to himself or others during a welfare check weeks before Friday night’s rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara that left six dead and 13 injured. Rodger died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after a shootout with deputies. Identifying a mass killer “is not an exact science. We don’t have a foolproof way of predicting” who will turn violent, said criminologist Risdon Slate of Florida Southern College. Before Rodger stabbed three male students in his apartment and cruised in his black BMW firing at sorority girls and strangers, he left a trail of YouTube videos and a 140-page rant against women and couples, lamenting his lack of a sex life.