Santa Barbara killing spree bore eerie similarity to 2001 attack

Published May 27, 2014

  • David Attias was found to be insane by a jury after he killed four people by plowing his Saab into a crowd in 2001. (AP)

The recent shooting spree in Isla Vista, Calif., bore an eerie similarity to a rampage carried out 13 years ago, prompting Tony and Patricia Bourdakis to relive the horrifying event that took their son's life.

Just like Friday night's murder spree by Elliot Rodger, a senseless 2001 attack by David Attias was carried out in the same coastal California community by the son of a Hollywood director and driven by mental illness and intense feelings of rejection. Rodger's spree claimed seven lives, including his own; Attias used his car to kill four people and was arrested.

Both attacks occurred on a Friday night, with Rodger's coming on May 23 and Attias' on Feb. 23 some 13 years earlier.

“My wife said, 'My God, it’s the same situation,'” a shaken Tony Bourdakis told "It’s Friday night, just like the first time. It’s the 23rd of the month. He essentially focused the same way David Attias did.

“My wife said, 'My God, it’s the same situation.'”
- Tony Bourdakis, lost son in 2001 attack

"I think [the similarity] really has to be looked into," he said. "It really scares the hell out of me.”

Nicholas Bourdakis was just 20 years old when Attias, a freshman at University of California-Santa Barbara, plowed his Saab into a crowd of students. Nicholas was killed, as were Christopher Divis, 20; Ruth Levy, 20 and Ellie Israel, 27. Attias, who then jumped out of his car and stood on the hood, shouting "I'm the angel of death," was declared insane by a jury. He spent 10 years in a state mental hospital before a judge released him.

Attias, whose father is former "Ally McBeal" and "Sopranos" TV director Daniel Attias, had complained about not being able to make friends or attract girls.

Rodger, who police say stabbed or shot six people before killing himself, voiced his contempt for everyone -- from his roommates to the human race -- reserving special hate for two groups: the women he says kept him a virgin for all of his 22 years and the men they chose instead.

Rodger, 22, a student at Santa Barbara City College, was the son of Peter Rodger, an assistant director of "The Hunger Games" and a photographer who specializes in photos of women's naked backsides.

Rodger's rampage played out largely as he sketched it in public postings. He said he would start by “silently killing as many people as I can around Isla Vista by luring them into my apartment through some form of trickery.” He said he would knock them out with a hammer, and slit their throats.

On Sunday, the sheriff’s office identified three victims killed in Rodger's apartment as Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, and George Chen, 19 -- both from San Jose -- and Weihan Wang, 20, of Fremont. Hong and Chen were listed on the lease as Rodger’s roommates. Investigators were trying to determine whether Wang was a roommate or was visiting the apartment.

Around 9:30 p.m., the shooting rampage began and lasted about 10 minutes.

The shooting victims were identified as Katherine Cooper, 22, and Veronika Weiss, 19, who were killed outside a UC-Santa Barbara sorority house; and Christopher Michael-Martinez, 20.

Rodger injured 13 more, either with gunshots or the BMW that he used as a battering ram against bicyclists and skateboarders. Deputies found three semi-automatic handguns along with 400 unspent rounds in the car.

Both Rodger and Attias appear to have suffered some sort of messianic complex, with Attias calling himself an "angel of death" and Rodger pronouncing himself a "god" in a rambling, 137-page screed he posted online.

"I will purify the world of everything that is wrong with it," Rodger wrote.

"On the Day of Retribution, I will truly be a powerful god, punishing everyone I deem to be impure and depraved."

Tony Bourdakis wonders why the privileged children of Hollywood titans like Rodger and the man who killed his son are allowed to roam the streets despite obvious mental problems.

“His parents, in my perspective, just ignored the situation," Bourdakis said of Attias. "It is not the way responsible parents would do it.”

Rodger's parents had their son in therapy, and his mother had called authorities twice after seeing his violent rants online. Her last effort to intervene came on Friday night, after she went to her son's YouTube channel and found a disturbing video. She called police, and both parents raced to Santa Barbara, but arrived after the bloody spree had ended.

And while Friday's spree brought painful memories rushing back to the forefront of Tony Bourdakis' mind, the anguish he and his wife still feel has never really gone away.

“The wound never closed," he said. "It’s horrible.”