May 29, 2014 at 7:33 AM ET
Elliot Rodger’s parents have not brought themselves to read the rage-filled, 137-page manifesto left by their son after he allegedly killed six people nearly a week ago, said a family friend.
“It is just awful,’’ family friend and spokesperson Simon Astaire told Matt Lauer on TODAY Thursday. “It is an awful piece of writing. They're going through absolutely enough at the moment...They are mourning the victims more than they are mourning their son.”
Astaire also delivered a statement from the family, the first one released since the shooting.
“We are crying in pain for the victims and their families. It breaks out hearts on a level that we didn’t think possible. The feeling of knowing that it was our son’s actions that caused the tragedy can only be described as hell on earth," the statement reads. "It is now our responsibility to do everything we can to help avoid this happening to any other family. Not only to avoid more innocence destroyed, but also to identify and deal with the mental issues that drove our son to do what he did.”
Rodger's parents found their son's manifesto and chilling YouTube video in which the 22-year-old promised retribution and vowed to kill sorority girls at UC Santa Barbara only minutes before the alleged shooting.
"The mother got a phone call from the social worker (who) said, 'Have you seen your email?''' Astaire said. "So she goes to her email, she opens it up, she reads the first three or four lines of the email, and then she automatically, instinctively goes to YouTube. She looks at YouTube and there was his retribution video. Within 30 seconds, she rings up her ex-husband, Peter Rodger. So he goes and looks on his iPhone, and he looks at this YouTube (video) that was posted, and Peter says, 'We have to go there. We have to get to him.'''
Peter and Chin Rodger rushed to campus in separate cars, learning on the way that the shootings had already transpired.
"They're heading towards Santa Barbara and they've got the radio on, and it's being reported there is a shooting, mass killings in Santa Barbara, and as they're going there, they're hearing that a black BMW is involved, and they're living their nightmare. They're hearing their son is murdering people."
That night, Peter watched the entire video.
"He knew instinctively that something was very, very wrong and that's why he got Chin to ring up 911, and they got into his car to hurtle down to Santa Barbara to see if they could rescue their son,'' Astaire said. "Clearly they did not, and when they found out what had happened, I got an email from Peter and it was heart-(wrenching), and he talked. He said to me in his email that his son had been shot dead but he had taken others with him.
"I suppose the reason why I'm here, talking to you and I'm sort of representing them is first, they are unable to get the words out. They are unable to express their sorrow."
Rodger's parents, Astaire said, are devastated — and still trying to understand how their son could carry out his threats before taking his own life.
"Well I've seen them since Saturday, and they have diminished,'' Astaire said. "They have gone down in size. They are virtually unrecognizable. It's an extraordinary thing to be close to, and it’s very difficult, very difficult to see.''
Rodger's parents, Astaire said, were "very much on top of things" — trying to get him help, and putting him in therapy at age 9. They had called the police two weeks before the shooting, Astaire said, "because they were alarmed at what he might do."
"From what I understand, Elliot had been living another life for a number of years,'' Astaire said. "Again this is what I understand — his manifesto he started to write three years ago, and this was a different person than even I met."
Astaire recalled an interaction with Elliot at a Christmas party a few years ago in which Astaire went out to get a breath of fresh air and Elliot was outside by himself, gazing at the stars.
"As I walked away from him, I turned around to see him, and he had gone back to looking up at the stars, and I have to tell you, I thought he was the loneliest person I've ever seen in my life, I felt that at the time and now (with) what has happened, I absolutely see it more clearly."