A recent report has identified 22-year-old Elliot Rodger as the first in a series of “alt-right killers” to strike in recent years for his murder spree of six students in the college town of Isla Vista back in 2014.
Based on the findings, the perpetrators were all men, most of whom were under 30 years of age. All of them were found to have participated in the “far-right ecosystem that defines the alt-right.” Their combined actions left 43 people dead and more than 60 injured.
Law Center’s paper marked the beginning of its timeline for alt-right killers exactly in the day of Rodger’s crime on May 23, 2014, when he started by killing his flatmates 20-year-old Weihan “David” Wang and 20-year-old and Cheng Yuan “James” Hong.
He reportedly waited for them as they were entering the apartment he shared with them. After stabbing both of them to death separately, he left their bodies in their bedroom. He then went on to kill their friend, George Chen, 19 and left his body in the bathroom. Chen was stabbed 94 times, while Wang and Hong had 15 and 25 stab wounds respectively.
He then went on a shooting rampage while driving across Isla Vista in his BMW, firing more than 55 shots. He ended up fatally shooting three people and wounding 13 others before he fatally shot himself. Rodger’s laptop would later be found turned on and opened on his YouTube page, where he had just uploaded a video he titled “Retribution”.
Rodger, who himself was half-Asian (Chinese on his mother’s side), posted a 137-page autobiographical essay where he pored out his beliefs that revealed extreme self-hate.
In his essay, Roger revealed that as early as age 9, he was already struggling with his mixed Chinese heritage:
“On top of this was the feeling that I was different because I am of mixed race. I am half White, half Asian, and this made me different from the normal fully-White kids that I was trying to fit in with … My first act was to ask my parents to allow me to bleach my hair blonde. I always envied and admired blonde-haired people, they always seemed so much more beautiful.”
Such self-hate was expressed in his description of his two Asian roommates, who he called “the biggest nerds I had ever seen, and they were both very ugly with annoying voices.”
“I knew that when the Day of Retribution came, I would have to kill my housemates to get them out of the way. If they were pleasant to live with, I would regret having to kill them, but due to their behavior, I now had no regrets about such a prospect. In fact, I’d even enjoy stabbing them both to death while they slept.”
Rodger’s self-loathing turned into anger towards others — especially Asian men who received attention from White women:
“I came across this Asian guy who was talking to a White girl. The sight of that filled me with rage. I always felt as if White girls thought less of me because I was half-Asian, but then I see this White girl at the party talking to a full-blooded Asian. I never had that kind of attention from a White girl! And white girls are the only girls I’m attracted to, especially the blondes. How could an ugly Asian attract the attention of a White girl, while a beautiful Eurasian like myself never had any attention from them? I thought with rage.
“I glared at them for a bit, and then decided I had been insulted enough. I angrily walked toward them and bumped the Asian guy aside, trying to act cocky and arrogant to both the boy and the girl. My drunken state got the better of me, and I almost fell over to the floor after a few minutes of this. They said something along the lines that I was very drunk and that I needed to get some water, so I angrily left them and went out to the front yard, where the main partying happened. Rage fumed inside me as I realized that I just walked away from that confrontation, so I rushed back into the house and spitefully insulted the Asian before walking outside again.”
His mental instability was also revealed in many of his YouTube videos, where he often complained that he was still unable to find a girlfriend despite his wealth.
While his issues surrounding his heritage may be different than the other alt-right killers, he shared some similar interests with them. Rodger’s fascination with Nazi figures would later be uncovered by investigators, according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Kelly Hoover. Rodger was found to have made significant research in Nazi history, including some of the main architects of the Holocaust.
“Upon review of the suspect’s internet search history, investigators have learned that the suspect was very interested in some of the practices and techniques of the Third Reich,” a 2015 report by the sheriff’s office noted.
“The suspect’s in-depth research included information about Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler, two infamous members of the Nazi hierarchy.”
Phrases such as “If you were Adolf Hitler” and “Nazi curbstomp” were also allegedly found among in his searched items.
While the shooting did ignite conversations on multiple issues, such as gun-control, and resulted in a couple of improvements in firearm laws in several states, it also sparked other incidents which seemed to take inspiration from Rodger himself.
William Edward Atchison, who even used Elliot Rodger’s name as his online pseudonym, reportedly made several references to Rodger before he went to a New Mexico high school on December 7 last year to kill two students and himself.
SPLC noted that nine of the 12 incidents allegedly influenced by the so-called “alt-right” occurred in 2017 alone, which made last year “the most violent year for the movement”.