Thursday afternoon brought yet another school shooting, this one at Seattle Pacific University, a Christian university about ten minutes from downtown Seattle. A 20-year-old man was killed, and three others — a 20-year-old woman and two other men, ages 24 and 22 — were wounded in the attack, which ended when some students managed to subdue the gunman.
The shooting began just after 3 p.m. in Otto Miller Hall, where kids were taking some of the semester’s final science, engineering, math, and physics classes. “I was in physics, and people heard a loud bang — we thought it was a science experiment,” said student Jordan Heff. “We heard crying and yelling outside our door. We walked out, and there were blood stains all over the carpet.” Another student, Chris Howard, told a local news outlet about how he and his classmates cared for a victim in one of the building’s classrooms: “[A friend] rushes in — obviously frantic and looking behind him — and first thing he says is: ‘Close the door behind me. Are the other doors locked?’” Howard recalled. “We start ripping the first aid kit off of the wall, because he had a couple of marks on his neck that were bleeding. We did some basic first aid with gauze pads on his neck, [and] I left the machine shop to try to find someone with more medical training, because the bleeding’s bad.”
The 26-year-old shooter, identified by Seattle’s KIRO-7 as Aaron Ybarra, was armed with a shotgun, a knife, and several rounds of ammunition. When Ybarra paused to reload, a student security guard pepper-sprayed him and pulled him onto the ground. Several other people held him down until the police arrived. As Seattle’s assistant police chief Paul McDonagh told reporters, “But for the terrific response of the people at Seattle Pacific University, this incident might have been much more tragic.”
Ybarra, who one witness said looked “kind of calm” as he was arrested, was not a student at SPU. Police sources told KIRO-7 that the suspect was “obsessed with the Columbine High School shootings” and had even traveled to Colorado to visit the scene of the 1999 rampage. In a Thursday night statement, the police said that they had “not found any connection between the suspect, Seattle Pacific University or any of the victims.”