Did Police Miss a Chance to Stop Santa Barbara Rampage?

Officers visited suspected gunman in the weeks before deadly attack.

ByABC News
May 26, 2014, 4:15 AM

May 26, 2014— -- In the weeks before Friday’s deadly rampage in Santa Barbara, Calif., suspected gunman Elliot Rodger’s parents contacted police after they grew concerned about his increasingly disturbing online rants.

Police visited and interviewed the 22-year-old on April 30, after a family member became alarmed about YouTube posts by Rodger that mentioned violence and suicide. While Rodger's parents and social worker were concerned, police found the student to be polite during their interview. He had taken down the alarming posts. Police cleared the call and left without taking any action.

“They determined that he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary mental health hold,” Deputy Sheriff Bill Brown said.

Read: Father of Santa Barbara Victim Sobs and Rails Against Son’s Death

Rodger, who authorities say carried out the rampage that left six others dead and 13 injured, believed his plans would have been thwarted if police asked to search his belongings.

“If they had demanded to search my room, that would have ended everything,” Rodger wrote in a chilling manifesto.

Read: Santa Barbara Shooter Was Angry Girls Were ‘Repulsed by Me’

ABC Mews' Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams said it’s easy in retrospect to blame police –- but on a welfare check, officers can only do so much.

“There’s only so much snooping they can do. A welfare check is not a search warrant,” Abrams said. “It’s intended to just make sure that the person appears to be of sound mind, and police get it wrong sometimes.”

“What the police are required to do with the welfare check is to make sure that the person does not appear to be a threat to himself and to others.”

Read: Elliot Rodger’s Trail of Carnage

The family never suspected Elliot would have guns, close family friend Simon Astaire said: "He had no affinity, it seemed, to guns whatsoever." But in fact the young man had stockpiled at least four guns and hundreds of rounds of ammo in his room, all bought legally.