Central Texas native witnesses California shooting tragedy

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by Jade Mingus / KVUE News

khou.com

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 9:43 PM

Updated Thursday, May 29 at 9:43 PM

AUSTIN, Texas -- A student from Austin attending college in California witnesses tragedy when a fellow student kills six people and then himself.

Ellen Cotten is now talking about the night gunfire erupted on her street.

When gun fire rang out in their neighborhood, Ellen Cotten and her roommates took cover.

It happened on Friday, the last day of classes, in a sleepy college town called Isla Vista.

Cotten heard more than a dozen gunshots outside her house as fellow Santa Barbara City College student Elliot Rodger continued his shooting spree.

"He passed up 7/11, fired shots, passed my house, fired shots, took a right on that street and that's when he crashed," said Cotten.

Police found Rodger dead in his car with three guns and 400 rounds of ammunition. Investigators say he stabbed three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more and injuring 13.

Nearly 1500 miles away here in Austin, Ellen's mother was worried about her daughter's safety. Ellen was texting her about the situation throughout the night.

"We didn't know all of the details until early Saturday morning," said Ellen's mother.

Ellen has lived in California two years now after graduating high school in Austin.

Now she says this tragedy is making that distance more painful.

"Just the fact it was planned. Right outside your door, someone among you, a peer, is planning this," said Ellen's mother. "The first day I watched 10 seconds of his video and I just couldn't."

They both say it's too difficult to read the killer's manifesto or watch his retribution video online.

Now they hope national attention turns to more help for people dealing with mental illness.

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