Experts: Mass murderers are hard to predict

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Elliot Rodger killing spree - updated 2/19
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Experts: Mass murderers are hard to predict
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office has issued its final report detailing 22-year-old Elliot Rodger's mass killing spree on March 23, 2014.
This undated photo from the California Department of Motor Vehicles shows the driver license photo of Elliott Rodger. Rodger, 22, went on a murderous rampage Friday, May 23, 2014, killing six before dying in a shootout with deputies, in the community of Isla Vista near the University of California, Santa Barbara, in Goleta, Calif., (AP Photo/California DMV)
A note addressed to George Chen, 20, of San Jose, Calif., one of three men found stabbed to death in the apartment of Elliott Rodger, is seen outside the apartment where he lived in the Isla Vista neighborhood of Goleta, Calif., Monday, May 26, 2014. Six people, all students at nearby University of California, Santa Barbara, were killed before Rodger was killed by gunfire in the 10-minute rampage Friday, May 23. (AP Photo/Christopher Weber)
A woman views a sidewalk memorial for Katie Cooper and Veronica Weiss, two of the victims of a shooting rampage by Elliott Rodger, outside the Delta Phi sorority house in the Isla Vista neighborhood of Goleta, Calif., Monday, May 26, 2014. Six people, all students at nearby University of California, Santa Barbara, were killed before Rodger was killed by gunfire in the 10-minute rampage Friday, May 23. (AP Photo/Christopher Weber)
Flowers, photos and a note adorn a sidewalk memorial for Veronica Weiss, who along with Katie Cooper were two of the victims of a shooting rampage by Elliott Rodger, outside a the Delta Phi sorority house, in the Isla Vista neighborhood of Goleta, Calif., Monday, May 26, 2014. Six people, all students at nearby University of California, Santa Barbara, were killed before Rodger was killed by gunfire in the 10-minute rampage Friday, May 23. (AP Photo/Christopher Weber)
A sidewalk memorial includes a note addressed to Katie Cooper and Veronica Weiss, two of the victims of a shooting rampage by Elliott Rodger, outside the Delta Phi sorority house, in the Isla Vista neighborhood of Goleta, Calif., Monday, May 26, 2014. Six people, all students at nearby University of California, Santa Barbara, were killed before Rodger was killed by gunfire in the 10-minute rampage Friday, May 23. (AP Photo/Christopher Weber)
Two students comfort each other during a candlelight vigil held to honor the victims of Friday night's mass shooting on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Isla Vista, Calif. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
People gather at a park for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of Friday night's mass shooting on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Isla Vista, Calif. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A woman places a candle in front of IV Deli Mart, where par of Friday night's mass shooting took place by a drive-by shooter, on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in the beach community of Isla Vista, Calif. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
People gather at a park for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of Friday night's mass shooting on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Isla Vista, Calif. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Students gather for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of Friday night's mass shooting on Saturday, May 24, 2014, on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near UC Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Students march on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara during a candlelight vigil held to honor the victims of Friday night's mass shooting on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Isla Vista, Calif. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near UC Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Stephen Nichols arranges flowers left in front of IV Deli Mart, where part of Friday night's mass shooting took place by a drive-by shooter, on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Isla Vista, Calif. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Students comfort each other during a candlelight vigil held to honor the victims of Friday night's mass shooting on Saturday, May 24, 2014, on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near UC Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Students stand next to a bouquet of flowers during a candlelight vigil held to honor the victims of Friday night's mass shooting on Saturday, May 24, 2014, on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near UC Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
People march on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara during a candlelight vigil held to honor the victims of Friday night's mass shooting on Saturday, May 24, 2014. Sheriff's officials say Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near UC Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Flowers are placed through a bullet hole on a window of IV Deli Mart, where part of Friday night's mass shooting took place by a drive-by shooter, on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Isla Vista, Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Images of Christopher Martinez are displayed as part of a memorial in front of the IV Deli Mart, where part of Friday night's mass shooting took place, on Sunday, May 25, 2014, in the Isla Vista beach community of Santa Barbara, Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, pays her respects at a makeshift memorial in front of the IV Deli Mart, where part of Friday night's mass shooting took place by a drive-by shooter Sunday, May 25, 2014 in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
A passerby pays his respects at a makeshift memorial in front of the IV Deli Mart, Sunday, May 25, 2014, the scene of a drive-by shooting Friday in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Jose Cardoso pays his respects at a makeshift memorial in front of the IV Deli Mart, where part of Friday night's mass shooting took place by a drive-by shooter Sunday, May 25, 2014, in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Susana Abdurahman pays her respects at a makeshift memorial in front of the IV Deli Mart, where part of Friday night's mass shooting took place by a drive-by shooter Sunday, May 25, 2014, in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Jose Cardoso pays his respects at a makeshift memorial in front of the IV Deli Mart, where part of Friday night's mass shooting took place by a drive-by shooter Sunday, May 25, 2014, in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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GOLETA, Calif. (AP) - Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes. Sandy Hook school attacker Adam Lanza. And now Elliot Rodger.

All were young loners with no criminal history who went on shooting sprees, leaving devastated families in their wake.

Mass murderers tend to have a history of pent-up frustration and failures, are socially isolated and vengeful, blaming others for their unhappiness, experts say.

"They all display deluded thinking and a lot of rage about feeling so marginalized," James Garbarino, a professor of psychology at Loyola University Chicago, said in an email.

Since mass killings are extremely rare, scholars say there's no way to predict who has deadly intentions, let alone 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 victims dead and 13 injured.

Isla Vista Shootings: A Look At The Victims

Rodger died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after a shootout with deputies, ending a night of terror in this tight-knit seaside campus community as the semester drew to a close.

Pinpointing a mass killer "is not an exact science. We don't have a foolproof way of predicting" who will turn violent, said Risdon Slate, a professor of criminology at Florida Southern College.

Before Rodger stabbed three male UCSB students in his apartment and cruised around in his black BMW firing at sorority girls and strangers, he left a trail of YouTube videos and a 140-page manifesto ranting against women and couples and lamenting his lack of a sex life.

In his postings, Rodger, a 22-year-old community college student and son of a Hollywood director, said he was a lonely and frustrated virgin.

"I'm sexually attracted to girls. But girls are not sexually attracted to me. And there's a major problem with that - a major problem. That's a problem that I intend to rectify. I in all my magnificence and power, I will not let this fly. It's an injustice that needs to be dealt with," Rodger said in one of the videos.

Recent mass shootings involved young men described as loners who had trouble fitting in.

In July 2012, 24-year-old Holmes opened fire at a midnight screening of a Batman film, killing a dozen movie-goers. Five months later, 20-year-old Lanza shot 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Experts who study mass murderers say most lonely and angry people don't commit violence, which makes it difficult to know who will snap.

"We can point to all the warning signs we missed. But they're yellow flags. They're not red flags until blood is spilled," said James Alan Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University who has written several books on mass murders.

Before the killings, Rodger's mother and counselor became alarmed about bizarre videos he posted and alerted authorities in April. But Rodger was able to convince deputies that he was not a risk to himself or others - conditions that would have allowed them to take him into custody under California law.

Family friend Simon Astaire said Rodger was "very much a boy of solitude" who spoke few words.

"At a Christmas party, I went out to get air and there he was standing alone. I apologized for disturbing his peace, and he said it was all right. I asked, 'How are you doing?' He said, 'I find things difficult.' I walked away thinking that he was very sad lonely boy," Astaire told The Associated Press.

In his writings, Rodger said he had seen several therapists throughout his life, but it's unclear what he was being treated for.

Experts say people with mental illness generally are not more violent than the rest of the population. A rare exception was Jared Loughner, who fatally shot six people in Arizona in 2011 in an attack that severely injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

On Sunday, several security guards stood watch outside the apartment building where Rodger lived. Memorials sprung up there, outside the sorority house where two coeds were shot nearby and at a deli where a male student was shot.

The university planned a memorial Tuesday afternoon at UCSB's Harder Stadium to mourn and remember the six students who were killed. The day's classes were canceled.

___

Chang reported from Los Angeles. AP writers Daisy Nguyen in Los Angeles and Oskar Garcia in Honolulu contributed to this report.

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