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Alleged target of California gunman says 'it's an absolute miracle' she's alive

An alleged target of Elliot Rodger's shooting rampage says it's a "miracle" she wasn't struck when the 22-year-old gunman fired multiple shots at her during a killing spree Friday night that left 6 dead and several others injured.

In a lengthy manifesto that blamed his rage largely on rejection by women, Rodger wrote that, "I will destroy all women because I can never have them," citing in particular "blonde girls" from the Alpha Phi Sorority at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Sierra Swartz, a Santa Barbara City College sophomore, was walking to her boyfriend's house Friday night when Rodger pulled up alongside her in his vehicle and briefly spoke to her before opening fire.

"It's an absolute miracle that he didn't shoot me from how close he was to me," Swartz said. "There was no one else around. I was the only person on the streets."

"He looked directly at me. He talked to me and then he just shot at me multiple times and somehow, even though I hadn't even ran yet, he didn't hit me," she said.

It's not clear whether Rodger knew Swartz or if she was a sorority member. 

Rodger, son of The Hunger Games Assistant Director Peter Rodger, killed six people, wounded 13 and killed himself in Friday's massacre, which he had referred to as the "Day of Retribution" in the 137-page manifesto he wrote.

The first three killed Friday -- Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, George Chen, 19, and Weihan Wang, 20 -- were male stabbing victims in Rodger's own apartment, authorities say. Two of them were Rodger's housemates, whom he described as the "biggest nerds I had ever seen." He wrote in the manifesto that he'd "enjoy stabbing them both to death while they slept."

At about 9:30 p.m., the shooting rampage began. Rodger killed 20-year-old Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, a student who was shot and killed inside the IV Deli Mart in Goleta. He also killed 22-year-old Katie Cooper, who was shot and killed by Rodger across the street from the Alpha Phi sorority house. Veronika Weiss, 19, a talented water polo player, was shot and killed alongside Cooper.

Authorities who appeared at Rodger's doorstep last month to check on his mental health hadn't seen online videos in which he threatens suicide and violence, despite his parents contacting police about the alarming recordings.

By the time law enforcement did see the videos, it was too late: The well-mannered if shy young man that deputies concluded after their visit posed no risk had gone on a deadly rampage on Friday.

The sheriff's office "was not aware of any videos until after the shooting rampage occurred," Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kelly Hoover told The Associated Press.

Sheriff Bill Brown has defended the officers' actions, but the case highlights the challenges that police face in assessing the mental health of adults, particularly those with no history of violent breakdowns, institutionalizations or serious crimes.

"Obviously, looking back on this, it's a very tragic situation and we certainly wish that we could turn the clock back and maybe change some things," Brown told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

"At the time deputies interacted with him, he was able to convince them that he was OK," he said.

It's not clear why the sheriffs did not become aware of the videos. Attorney Alan Shifman said the Rodger family had called police after being alarmed by YouTube videos "regarding suicide and the killing of people" that their son had been posting.

Doris A. Fuller, executive director of the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, said California law has provisions that permit emergency psychiatric evaluations of individuals who pose a serious threat, but that was never triggered.

Rodger's family has disclosed their son was under the care of therapists.

"Once again, we are grieving over deaths and devastation caused by a young man who was sending up red flags for danger that failed to produce intervention in time to avert tragedy," Fuller said in a statement.

"In this case, the red flags were so big the killer's parents had called police ... and yet the system failed," she said.

Rodger, writing in a manifesto, said he was relieved his apartment wasn't searched because deputies would have uncovered the cache of weapons he used in the beach town rampage Friday in which he killed six people and then, authorities say, himself.

He posted at least 22 YouTube videos. He wrote in his manifesto that he uploaded most of his videos in the week leading up to April 26, when he originally planned to carry out his attacks. He postponed his plan after catching a cold.

Because many of the videos were removed from YouTube then re-added in the week leading up to the killings, it's unclear which of the videos alarmed his family, or whether others were reported that were not uploaded again.

He voices 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.

At least two other people who saw Rodger's videos before Friday compared him to a serial killer, through a message board on a bodybuilding website and the social network Reddit.

The rampage played out largely as he sketched it in public postings, including a YouTube video where he sits in the BMW in sunset light and appears to be acting out scripted lines and planned laughs.

"I'll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you," the son of a Hollywood director who worked on "The Hunger Games" says in the video posted Friday and taken down by YouTube Saturday with a message saying it violated the site's terms of service.

Brown told CNN on Sunday that investigators are close to having a "pretty clear picture of what happened."

Deputies found three semi-automatic handguns along with 400 unspent rounds in his black BMW. All were purchased legally.

A father whose son was among the victims voiced anger at gun laws Saturday.

"The talk about gun rights. What about Chris' right to live?" said Richard Martinez, the father of Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez. "When will enough people say: 'Stop this madness! We don't have to live like this! Too many people have died!"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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