US & Canada

California drive-by gunman kills six in Santa Barbara

A gunman has killed six people in drive-by shootings near the Californian city of Santa Barbara, US police say.

The shootings took place late on Friday in Isla Vista near the University of California-Santa Barbara campus.

The suspected gunman was found dead in his car with a bullet wound. It is unclear whether it was self-inflicted.

Police are looking into a possible link with a Youtube video in which a young man complains of repeated rejection by women and threatens to take revenge.

Seven other people are in hospital, and being treated for bullet wounds.

The shootings occurred at several sites in the town of Isla Vista, and there were nine crime scenes, police said.

Witnesses described seeing a black BMW speeding through the streets, with shots being fired at people.

Student Michael Vitek told local TV station KEYT he had seen one woman being fatally struck and another critically injured. "I heard shots, scream, pain," he said.

The horrific sequence of events occurred in the university area of Santa Barbara, which is known as a party area for students, says the BBC's Peter Bowes in Los Angeles.

With Friday the start of a holiday weekend in the US, it could be that the timing was chosen for maximum effect, he adds.

Police say they were alerted to the shootings around 21:30 on Friday (04:30 GMT on Saturday). Six minutes later, the suspect and responding officers exchanged gunfire.

The suspect fled. But after a second exchange of fire with police, he eventually crashed into a parked vehicle.

He was found dead in his car with a bullet wound to the head. A semi-automatic handgun was recovered from the vehicle.

Investigators know the suspect's name but would not release it before all relatives were notified, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters.

Police say they have identified nine separate crime scenes in the Isla Vista area
Officers have so far not disclosed the name of the suspect
Local station KEYT-TV showed a body on the ground after the shootings

"We have obtained and are currently analysing videotaped evidence that suggests that this atrocity was a premeditated mass murder," Mr Brown said.

He said police were familiar with a YouTube video entitled Elliot Rodger's Retribution, in which a man says he is aged 22 and vows revenge on women, with whom he says he has never had an intimate experience.

Santa Barbara shootings timeline, 23 May

21:27 local time: Shootings begin

21:33: Police exchange fire with gunman, who flees in his vehicle

Seconds later: More police exchange fire. Car crashes in Del Playa Drive, alleged gunman found dead

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