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3 shot at Seattle Pacific University; gunman arrested

Three people were shot Thursday afternoon at Seattle Pacific University. (KIRO Radio Photo/Brandi Kruse)
  • Suspect identified as 26-year-old man who was not a student at SPU
  • Police searched a home tied to the shooting suspect, Aaron R. Ybarra, Thursday night
  • Three people shot; one other injured in struggle with the shooter
  • One victim died at Harborview Medical Center
  • Student monitor credited with subduing gunman
  • Classes at SPU have been canceled for Friday, June 6

One person died and two others remain hospitalized after being shot Thursday afternoon at Seattle Pacific University.

A lone gunman was arrested and has been identified by police. His first court appearance at the King County Jail is Friday at 2:30 p.m.

A student building monitor at SPU has been credited by police with disarming the gunman while he reloaded his shotgun. Several other people jumped on top of him and pinned him down until officers arrived, police said.

The gunman opened fire after entering the foyer of Otto Miller Hall, shooting three people. A 19-year-old man died at Harborview Medical Center. Three others were also taken to the hospital. A critically wounded 19-year-old woman was in intensive care late Thursday night after about five hours in surgery, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said. She is now in critical but stable condition.

A 24-year-old man remained satisfactory condition Friday morning at Harborview. A Seattle Fire Department official said the man suffered “pellet type wounds” to his neck and chest.

A 22-year-old man was treated and released, Gregg said. Police said he suffered minor injuries during the struggle with the suspect.

The shooting suspect has been identified by Seattle Police as Aaron R. Ybarra, 26, of Mountlake Terrace. He was not a student at the school. He was booked into the King County Jail late Thursday for investigation of murder.

According to Seattle Police Captain Chris Fowler, the suspect walked into Otto Miller Hall on the small campus on the north side of Seattle’s Queen Anne hill and immediately opened fire with a shotgun.

A student building monitor, identified by fellow students as Jon Meis, was able to pepper spray and subdue the gunman and wrestle him to the ground. Other students then jumped on top of them and they were able to pin the shooter to the ground until police arrived, Fowler said.

Police believe the gunman acted alone. Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh said Thursday that he did not know the gunman’s motive or intended target. Detectives were “working as quickly as we can to figure it out.”

On Thursday night, police officers and detectives searched a home believed to be tied to Ybarra. It was not immediately known what, if anything, they found inside. A phone message left at that house by the Associated Press was not immediately returned.

According to McDonagh, Ybarra was armed with a shotgun, knife, and additional rounds of ammunition.

At the time of the shooting, student Jillian Smith told KIRO Radio she was in a classroom in the two-story Otto Miller Hall, which houses the University’s science, math and engineering departments. She said the school quickly posted a notification on a screen in the classroom about the lockdown following the shooting.

“We heard the police outside the door screaming and yelling,” she said. “We saw blood on the carpet and blood on the walls […] I’m a little shaken up but I feel safe.”

Student Chris Howard was working in a nearby machine shop when one of the victims ran in, blood pouring from his neck. He ran outside and saw another student comforting the female victim and raced to her side.

“I just started being there trying to calm her down, because she was justifiably frantic. It appeared that she had a lot of red blood around her chest and there was some sort of tourniquet around her arm,” he said. “When someone’s in this kind of position you just try and reassure them, ‘No, everything’s going to be alright, you’re going to be fine.’ Just try and stay calm just for her sake.”

Chad, an SPU student who saw police and medics arrive to campus, said, “It’s surprising that this sort of thing happened here. We really want to know who the victims are because we probably know them.”

About 4,270 undergraduate and graduate students attend the private Christian university on the 40-acre campus, located in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. The school canceled classes and other activities Friday. Women make up about 67 percent the enrollment, and in 2013, about 43 percent of its incoming freshmen were from out-of-state.

The school’s stated mission is to engage the culture and change the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gun violence follows a spate of recent shootings on or near college campuses.

Seven people were killed and three injured when a 43-year-old former student opened fire at a tiny Christian school, Oikos University, in Oakland, California, in 2012. A gunman killed five people and injured 18 when he opened fire in a Northern Illinois University lecture hall in 2008.

In 2007, 32 people were fatally shot in a dorm and classroom at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, before the gunman killed himself.

“Once again the epidemic of gun violence has come to Seattle,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in a brief news conference. “We have been here before: Cafe Racer, the shootings on Capitol Hill, and the shooting at the Jewish Federation. Our prayers and our thoughts are with the families and the entire family at Seattle Pacific University.”

As part of its emergency and crisis management plan, the school quickly activated an email and text notification to alert students immediately following the shooting.

Reporting by and KIRO Radio’s Stephanie Klein, Brandi Kruse, Josh Kerns, and the Associated Press is included in this report.

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