1 dead, others hurt in shooting at Seattle Pacific University before student tackles gunman

From the Seattle Times:

shooting Thursday afternoon at Seattle Pacific University.

Seattle Times staff

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Authorities respond to a shooting that occurred on campus at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle on Thursday. One person is dead and at least two others are wounded.
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DEAN RUTZ / The Seattle Times

Authorities respond to a shooting that occurred on campus at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle on Thursday. One person is dead and at least two others are wounded.

Enlarge this photo

Play video: SPU school shooting witness Blake Oliveira
SPU school shooting witness Blake Oliveira

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Play video: SPU shooting: Reader boards kept students informed
SPU shooting: Reader boards kept students informed

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Play video: SPU shooting: Students came to female victim’s aid
SPU shooting: Students came to female victim’s aid

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Play video: SPD’s initial address to media after SPU shooting
SPD’s initial address to media after SPU shooting

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SPU President Dr. Dan Martin comments on school shooting

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About Seattle Pacific University
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Fortunately, SPU is a gun free zone, so this wasn’t allowed to happen and won’t be allowed to happen again. (June 5, 2014) MORE

And how was the shooter subdued? By a student building monitor WITHOUT A GUN. And a little pepper spray. (June 5, 2014) MORE

” can’t wait to vote for Initiative 594, “Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases” Can you name one mass… (June 5, 2014) MORE

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A gunman killed one student and wounded at least two others inside a hall at Seattle Pacific University Thursday afternoon, unleashing a wave of terror as the school went into lockdown and students scrambled for cover.

One of the victims, a young man who was taken in critical conditon to Harborview Medical Center, was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Another, a 20-year-old woman, was in critical condition and in surgery. Two others, men ages 22 and 24, were in satisfactory condition, one with gunshot wounds and the other, who was not shot, suffered injuries that weren’t immediately described.

Two other people were reported to be hurt, although the nature of their injuries was not known, and they were not taken to Harborview.

Seattle police arrested the gunman, described as a young man armed with a shotgun and handgun. Police said the gunman walked into the foyer of Otto Miller Hall shortly before 3:30 p.m. and shot three people.

Seattle police Capt. Chris Fowler said a student, who is a building monitor, subdued the gunman as he stopped to reload.

Other students then helped hold the man down until police arrived, Fowler said.

At some point, police said, someone pepper-sprayed the gunman.

A search for a possible second suspect kept medics from getting to injured people inside, said Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore.

But police later said there was only one suspect, who was believed to have been driving a white Chevrolet S-10 pickup, parked on the northwest corner outside Otto Miller Hall.

“It was super-terrifying,” SPU sophomore Kharis Lund said of the fear and uncertainty that swept through the campus. “There were a lot of people crying and calling their parents.”

“A day of tragedy and loss”

The shooting occurred on the second-to-last day of classes at the Free Methodist school on north end of Queen Anne Hill, where there are 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. A prayer service was being held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the campus church.

At the scene, a somber Mayor Ed Murray said: “Today should have been a day of celebration at the end of the school year here at Seattle Pacific University. Instead, it’s a day of tragedy and of loss. Once again, the epidemic of gun violence has come to Seattle, an epidemic of gun violence that has haunted this nation.”

He thanked first responders, students and staff.

“Friends, we have been here before: Café Racer, the shootings on Capitol Hill, the shootings at the Jewish Federation,” Murray said. “This is a tragic moment for Seattle, a tragic moment for America once again. Our prayers and our thoughts are with the families, and with the entire family of the Seattle Pacific University community.”

SPU President Daniel J. Martin said the emergency-response system that was activated when the shooting occurred has been in operation for several years.

“Certainly, I think that Virginia Tech heightened the awareness of all campuses to be prepared for an event like this to occur,” he said of the 2007 shooting in which a gunman killed 32 people before taking his own life.

Martin said that students and faculty members have drills in case a shooting occurs, and cited those drills as one reason the shooter was apprehended and first responders arrived so quickly.

The students who helped apprehend the suspect “acted without regard to their own safety on behalf of others,” Martin said near the Otto Miller building.

“We are a community and we care for others,” Martin said. “Those that were involved did just that.”

Classes were canceled for the rest of Thursday evening, and officials were working to determine the plan for Friday, Martin said.

“Lockdown” in red letters

SPU students inside and near Otto Miller Hall heard the first blasts.

Ronald E. Lopez was studying in a second-floor laboratory at the hall when he heard what he described as “a loud bang.”

“I prayed in my heart it wasn’t a gunshot, because I’ve been hearing all this talk about gun shootings and I’m tired of it,” Lopez said. “But it of course was a bullet.”

About two doors down from Otto Miller Hall’s entrance, Michaela Stewart was in a first-floor physics class with about 25 or so other students.

“It sounded like it was outside,’’ she said. “We heard a gunshot, but we were all really loud so we didn’t pay attention to it.”

After a few minutes, though, the classroom clock emitted a “loud, obnoxious beep” and flashed the word “lockdown” in red letters.

Her teacher locked the door, and they closed the blinds and turned off the lights. Her teacher told them to carry on, but they started hearing noises from the hall.

“We could hear screaming and moaning in the hallway right outside our door for quite a few minutes,’’ she said.

Some students began to pray. Stewart texted her family, telling them she was OK.

Stewart was unclear how much time passed, but said it seemed like about three minutes later when they were evacuated from the classroom.

“That’s when we saw blood on the carpet, and a guy in handcuffs, completely knocked out on the floor.”

The man was face down, she said, and appeared to be unconscious. He was wearing skater sneakers and jeans.

The students were taken, under police escort, to a bus stop across the parking lot, and then to another building.

Phone text: I’ve been shot

Elsewhere across campus, students and faculty said they heard sirens and received a mass-emergency notice via text.

“Emergency! A campus lockdown has been initiated. This is not a drill,” the text said.

Tom Lane, who works in the school of business, said he got an email and text notification of the lockdown at 3:28 p.m. — right around the time he heard emergency vehicles responding to the scene. At his office across the street and a couple buildings away, the three workers on his floor closed the blinds, locked the doors and gathered in the hallway.

SPU student Gloris Jones, 20, was walking from Otto Miller Hall with her mother, Mary Jones, who is visiting from Michigan.

Jones received a text message from a friend who said he had been shot. She sent back five or six messages to the SPU senior, but he didn’t reply.

“I don’t even know where he is,” Gloris Jones said as she hugged her mother. “And you want to make sure he’s OK.”

Lund, 19, said she was in her dorm room at Emerson Hall when she heard sirens.

“We thought that’s a lot of sirens, just for something in the neighborhood,” Lund said.

Next, she got a mass text from the school reporting the campus was on lockdown, it was not a drill and that a shooter was on campus.

Lund said she and several other people in the room locked the doors, closed the blinds and got on the floor.

“It was super-terrifying,” Lund said. “There were a lot of people crying and calling their parents.”

The group in the room remained cautious until they heard a media report that the shooter was apprehended.

Lund said her room is a short distance from Otto Miller Hall, and on the same street. But she did not see what happened, she said.

Gunshots next door

SPU student Jordan Heff was in class when he heard gunshots coming from a classroom next door.

“I was in physics and people heard a loud bang — we thought it was a science experiment. We heard crying and yelling outside our door. We walked out and there were blood stains all over the carpet.”

Max Osgood, a 19-year-old freshman from Anchorage, said he and about 25 other students were in a physics class when they heard “something that sounded like a door slam or a desk fall over.”

“And then we heard a lot of screaming that someone had been shot,” Osgood said.

When a classmate poked his head out of the classroom’s door, Osgood said, a voice from the hallway screamed, “Shut the door and lock it!”

For the next four to five minutes, Osgood and his classmates — with the doors locked and blinds pulled shut — listened to muffled screams and moans emanating from the hallway.

“We could hear people yelling about bleeding, stuff like that,” he said.

Finally, there was a bang from a back door-well. Some classmates screamed. A couple of armed Seattle cops burst through the door, leading the frightened class out of the building. Osgood and other students caught glimpses of the carnage as they went.

A bloodied girl was being loaded onto a stretcher. Carpeting was splattered in blood. And two police officers were holding down a man with black hair.

“He wasn’t moving at all,” Osgood said. “… in handcuffs, with a couple of cops kneeling on his back.”

The students were led across the street and into another building, where they were kept in lockdown for at least 45 minutes, Osgood added.

“It’s pretty rattling,” Osgood said. “And then on top of that, all of this happened right outside of classroom. It was very scary. A lot of people were freaking out. It’s just really weird. You never think anything like this will happen to you — especially after the shooting that happened at UCSB a couple weeks ago. It’s just bizarre.”

As soon as he could, Osgood said, he called his parents, his brother and his close friends in Alaska to let them know he was safe.

“I made sure I was the first to let them know what happened, so that they didn’t see it on Twitter or something.”

Violent crime is rare in the SPU area. Over the past four years, Seattle police recorded only 14 violent crimes, slightly more than three incidents a year: seven threats, six assaults and one robbery. Of the 252 incidents in the area, about 90 percent were property crimes — car prowls, auto thefts and bike thefts, police records show.

While no Seattle public schools are directly near SPU, buses returned students to some because drivers were are unable to get to their homes or after-school programs due to police road closures. Those schools were identified as Blaine, Queen Anne, Coe, John Hay.

In addition, Lawton Elementary in Magnolia was designated as a shelter-in-place as a precaution.

Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or smiletich@seattletimes.com

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