Gunman arrested after killing 1, wounding at least 2 at Seattle university
SEATTLE — 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 took cover.
One of the victims, a young man who was taken to Harborview Medical Center, was pronounced dead, according to 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 had gunshot wounds and the other was not shot, but the nature of his injuries was unclear.
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 at 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.
The shooting occurred on the second-to-last day of classes at the Free Methodist school on the north end of Queen Anne Hill, where there are 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. A prayer service was set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the campus church.
At the scene, a somber Seattle 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: Cafe 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 in place 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.
SPU students inside and near Otto Miller Hall heard the first blasts shortly before 3:30 p.m.
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 gun shot, 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.
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.”
Kharis Lund, 19, a sophomore at SPU, 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.”
Lund, who is from Canada, said she couldn’t call her parents because of her limited cellphone plan, so she let them know she was unhurt in a Facebook message.
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.
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.”