Students ran, hid as gunman opened fire at Christian college
OAKLAND, Calif. — One wounded woman cowered in the bushes after the gunman opened fire on the campus of a small Christian university. One student hid in a locked classroom as the shooter banged on the door. Another heard the shots and ran to safety.
All within an hour Monday, police said, a 43-year-old former student named One L. Goh walked into Oikos University, and began a rampage that left seven people dead and three people wounded, trapped some in the building and forced others to flee for their lives.
It was an “extremely chaotic scene,” police Chief Howard Jordan said.
Soon after the shooting, heavily armed officers swarmed the tiny college of fewer than 100 students in a large industrial park near the Oakland airport. For a time, police believed the gunman could still be inside. But he wasn’t.
Instead, officers said he apparently drove about three miles from campus before surrendering to officers inside a supermarket.
“It’s going to take us a few days to put the pieces together,” said Jordan said. “We do not have a motive.”
Jordan told “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that the suspect was “upset with the administration of the school” and that the suspect had been “mistreated” and “disrespected” by students.
Those connected to the school, including the founder and several students, described the gunman as a former nursing student. The chief said Goh is a South Korean national who’s a former student of the university.
Police first received a 911 call at 10:33 a.m. reporting a woman on the ground bleeding. As more calls came in from the school, the first arriving officer found a victim suffering from a life-threatening gunshot wound, he said.
More officers arrived and formed a perimeter around the school on the belief that the suspect was still inside, he said.
“Potentil victims remained inside the building either trapped by a locked door which officers were unable to open,” Jordan said.
Others were unable to flee because they were injured, he said.
Jordan said there were about 35 people in or near the building when gunfire broke out. Of the seven fatalities, five died at the scene and another two at the hospital. The wounded victims are in stable condition, and at least one person has been released from the hospital. He told GMA on Tuesday the victims ranged in age from 21 to 40.
“This unprecedented tragedy was shocking and senseless,” Jordan said.
Art Richards said he was driving by the university on his way to pick up a friend when he spotted a woman hiding in the bushes. He pulled over, and when he approached her, she said, “I’m shot” and showed him her arm.
“She had a piece of her arm hanging out,” Richards said, noting that she was wounded near the elbow.
As police arrived, Richards said he heard 10 gunshots coming from inside the building. The female victim told him that she saw the gunman shoot one person point-blank in the chest and one in the head.
Tashi Wangchuk, whose wife attended the school and witnessed the shooting, said he was told by police that the gunman first shot a woman at the front desk, then continued shooting randomly in classrooms.
Wangchuk said his wife, Dechen Wangzom, was in her vocational nursing class when she heard gunshots. She locked the door and turned off the lights, Wangchuk said he was told by his wife.
The gunman “banged on the door several times and started shooting outside and left,” he said. Wangchuk said no one was hurt inside his wife’s classroom, but that the gunman shot out the glass in the door. He said she did not know the man.
“She’s a hero,” he said of his wife.
Television footage showed bloodied victims on stretchers being loaded into ambulances. Several bodies covered in sheets were laid out in a patch of grass at the school. One body could be seen being loaded into a van.
Myung Soon Ma, the school’s secretary, said she could not provide any details about what happened at the private school, which serves the Korean community with courses from theology to Asian medicine.
“I feel really sad, so I cannot talk right now,” she said, speaking from her home.
At Highland Hospital, Dawinder Kaur’s family told the Oakland Tribune that she was being treated for a gunshot to her elbow.
The 19-year-old U.S. Army Reservist told her family that that the gunman was a student in her nursing class who had been absent for months before returning Monday. The gunman entered the classroom and ordered students to line up against the wall.
When he showed his gun, students began running and he opened fire, her family said.
“She told me that a guy went crazy and she got shot,” brother Paul Singh told the newspaper. “She was running. She was crying; she was bleeding, it was wrong.”
Pastor Jong Kim, who founded the school about 10 years ago, told the newspaper that he did not know if the shooter was expelled or dropped out. Kim said he heard about 30 rapid-fire gunshots in the building.
“I stayed in my office,” he said.
Deborah Lee, who was in an English language class, said she heard five to six gunshots at first. “The teacher said, `Run,’ and we run,” she said. “I was OK, because I know God protects me. I’m not afraid of him.”
Goh fled from the school in a Honda Accord that belonged to one of the victims, Jordan said. The suspect was detained at a Safeway supermarket about three miles from the university, about an hour after the shooting.
A security guard at the supermarket approached the man because he was acting suspiciously, KGO-TV reported. The man told the guard that he needed to talk to police because he shot people, and the guard called authorities.
“He didn’t look like he had sign of relief on him. He didn’t look like he had much of any emotion on his face,” said Lisa Resler, who was buying fruit at Safeway with her 4-year-old daughter when she saw the man.
Goh also called his father soon after the shooting and told him what happened, the police chief said. The father also called authorities, Jordan said.
Police went to the Westlake Christian Terrace senior housing complex on Monday afternoon to speak with a relative of Goh, Nam Ko Young, who’s believed to be the man’s father, said Young’s neighbor, Barbara Ferguson. Young was seen leaving with police Monday afternoon. A staff member was sent to shut the television blaring news in the empty apartment, Ferguson said.
Ferguson said she’s seen Goh and Young in the lobby and exchanged hellos in the past but that she doesn’t know them well.
The suspect’s brother was killed in a car accident last year in Virginia while on active duty in the U.S. Army, according to Stars and Stripes newspaper. The suspect attended the funeral of Sgt. Su Wan Ko in Centreville, Va., after the March 8, 2011, accident.
Jerry Sung, the university’s accountant, said the school offers courses in both Korean and English to less than 100 students. He said the campus consists of one building. Sung said many of its students go on to work in nursing and ministry.
“The founder felt there was a need for theology and nursing courses for Korean-Americans who were newer to the community,” Sung said. “He felt they would feel more comfortable if they had Korean-American professors.”
This article was written and provided by The Associated Press Wire. (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)