7 Shot Dead At California College; Ex-Student Is Suspect

   on April 03 2012 8:45 AM
Shooting at Oikos University in Oakland
Police cordon off the scene of a mass shooting at Oikos University in Oakland, Calif., on Monday. Seven people were killed and three others wounded in the attack. Reuters

Seven people were killed and three wounded in a shooting rampage Monday at a small Christian university in Oakland, Calif., where the suspected gunman was once a student.

The suspect, captured hours after the attack at Oikos University, was identified as 43-year-old One Goh of Oakland, a law enforcement official was quoted as saying by the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Students at the school recognized the man who entered their classroom Monday morning as a former nursing student whom they hadn't seen for a few months, according to the Oakland Tribune. He then ordered everyone to get up against a wall, and drew a handgun.

The people started running, and he started shooting, Gurpreet Sahota, relaying an account from his sister-in-law, nursing student Dawinder Kaur, told the newspaper.

Police said the victims were six women and one man ranging in age from their 20s to 40s. Oakland's police chief, Howard Jordan, confirmed the arrest of One, a Korean native and naturalized U.S. citizen. Not much was immediately known about the suspect, but Jordan said One had no known previous criminal record.

Officers said they believe One acted alone.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan told KNTV, the NBC television affiliate in the Bay Area, that most if not all of the victims were South Korean nationals and that she was working with the South Korea's consulate in San Francisco to help identify the bodies.

Following the shooting, One reportedly drove the car of one of the shooting victims, 38-year-old Tshering Rinzing Bhutia of San Francisco, about five miles from the university to a supermarket. There, he announced he had shot people and should be arrested. A security guard detained him until police arrived; a shopper who saw a man being handcuffed said he seemed sedate.

The scene was chaotic at the university, which occupies a small building in a business park between Interstate 880 and Oakland International Airport.

Kaur, 19, a U.S. Army reservist, told relatives the gunman had been a student in her class but had been absent for months before reappearing Monday morning, the Oakland Tribune reported. Some students panicked when he drew a gun and began firing; Kaur was shot in the arm as she helped a friend who had fallen on the classroom floor. She then ran outside and called her brother, Paul Singh.

She told me that a guy went crazy, and she got shot, Singh said. She was running. She was crying; she was bleeding. It was wrong.

Police officers arrived within minutes, swarming the building; soon other structures nearby were locked down, and police and media helicopters hovered above. Officers moved into the building, concerned the gunman might still be inside and facing doors barricaded by terrified students. Some officers began smashing windows to get in; a police sergeant suffered a cut requiring hospitalization.

Police moved an armored vehicle in front of the school to provide cover as more than a dozen students and faculty -- some of whom had been found cowering under desks -- were evacuated by officers on the police SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team. Some of the injured were taken away by ambulance while others were treated at the scene.

Authorities said most of those killed and wounded had been in a classroom near the school's entrance, while one was shot in an administrative office. The gunman reportedly fired through another classroom's locked door but didn't hit anyone there.

Tashi Wangchuk, whose wife attended the school and witnessed the shooting, told the Associated Press he had been 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 didn't know the man.

She's a hero, he said.

According to the Tribune and other published reports, One's brother, U.S. Army Sgt. Su Wan Ko, died in a March 2011 traffic accident in Virginia while on assignment from the George C. Marshall Center, an international security and defense studies institute in Germany. One Goh attended a memorial service in Virginia along with their father, Young Nam Ko, 72, of Oakland. Their mother, Oak Chul Kim, of South Korea, attended as well but has since died. The suspect's other brother, Su Kwon Ko, who lives in Virginia didn't answer his phone for comment Monday.

Court records show several court judgments and tax liens against One dating back to 2006, when he lived in Virginia. He owed more than $23,000 in federal taxes at one point and thousands of dollars more to banks and apartment owners.

The most recent judgment, in December, was for $985 to Capital One Bank.

Police described Oikos as a postsecondary vocational school with strong ties to the Korean community and Korean students. A statement on the school's website from founder and president Pastor Jongin Kim says it offers the opportunity to obtain a Christian education that is based on solid Christian doctrine and ideology. Our main goal is to foster spiritual Christian leaders who abide by God's intentions and to expand God's nation through them. The Christian school offers classes in nursing, theology and music and also has a campus in South Korea.

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