California Mass Shooting Victims' Families File Lawsuit

03/03/2015 01:40 am ET | Updated May 03, 2015

By Curtis Skinner

March 2 (Reuters) - The families of three victims slain during a southern California rampage last year that left dead six college students and the killer are suing the county, the sheriff's department and the apartment building where the victims were killed.

The parents of George Chen, Weihan Wang, and Cheng-Yuan Hong filed the federal suit on Monday, alleging that the defendants failed to recognize signs that the attacker, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, was a danger and take action.

Rodger fatally stabbed the three men, two of whom were his roommates assigned by management at the Capri Apartments at Isla Vista, in the dwelling last May before fatally shooting three more people, wounding 14 others near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara, and killing himself.

The lawsuit pointed to several "red flags," including racist remarks Rodger made about previous roommates and other violent, erratic behavior, and alleged that the apartment managers did not investigate before assigning new roommates. Capri also didn't warn the new housemates of his past actions, the suit said.

Capri and Asset Campus Housing, a Texas-based firm that provides student housing nationally, and which was also named as a defendant, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages for the families, also said police went to Rodger's apartment just weeks before the killing spree and asked him about disturbing videos he had posted online, but never viewed any of the published material or requested to enter the apartment.

The complaint said the lack of further investigation was a violation of the victims' constitutional right to due process under the law.

"The sheriff's office cannot comment on a matter of pending litigation, and anything we might say in response would be insufficient when measured against the grief suffered by the families of those killed," Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the office, said in a statement.

Rodger, the son of a Hollywood director, had a history of mental health issues and, in an Internet manifesto before the rampage, expressed frustration about his lack of success with women.

A report by the sheriff's office published last month showed that Rodger had an interest in Nazis, particularly the party officials Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler, and did web searches for torture devices. (Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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