OAKLAND, California, April 5 — A former nursing student was charged with murder and attempted murder yesterday in a shooting rampage that killed seven people and wounded three others this week at a small, Christian college he once attended in California.
The suspect in the shootings at Oakland’s Oikos University, 43-year-old One Goh, described by some at the school as an outsider, appeared in court in a red jumpsuit for a brief arraignment in which the charges were read to him by a judge.
He is accused of opening fire on staff and former classmates at Oikos on Monday in the deadliest gun violence at a US college since a Virginia Tech University student killed 32 people and wounded 25 others before taking his own life in 2007.
After the shootings, Goh told investigators that he had gone to the school with a .45-calibre handgun and four fully loaded magazines of ammunition, according to a police “probable cause statement” filed with the charges in court.
The document said Goh admitted to forcing a woman from her office at the school into a classroom at gunpoint, then shooting several people there before taking one of the victim’s car keys and fleeing the scene in that person’s car.
Goh surrendered a short time later at a grocery several kilometres away, turning himself in to a security guard at the supermarket who called the police. Court documents say he was positively identified by at least three witnesses to the shooting, and surviving victims.
District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said Goh was charged with seven counts of murder with “special circumstances” that make him eligible for the death penalty, and three counts of attempted murder.
“The scope of this murderous rampage is unprecedented here in Alameda County,” O’Malley said at a news conference, adding that prosecutors had yet to decide whether to seek a death sentence.
The motive for the shooting remained unclear, but police have said Goh had “anger management” issues.
“The information we have from some people in the school is that he was a loner, and some would say a loser, but he did not exhibit any behaviour that would have alerted anyone” to the possibility of violent behaviour, O’Malley told reporters.
Goh remained quiet during his arraignment, which lasted a few minutes. He was barely visible to courtroom spectators from behind a screen separating him from the rest of the chamber. A second court hearing was set for April 30.
Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said on Tuesday that Goh had been cooperative since being taken into custody but was “not particularly remorseful”.
Jordan said the accused gunman had gone to the school intent on attacking a school administrator and classmates he felt had treated him unfairly. The administrator he sought was not there at the time, but six students and a secretary were killed.
The district attorney said Goh apparently believed the school owed him money.
“There is some information that the defendant wanted some money back for tuition he had paid,” O’Malley said. Although police previously said Goh had been expelled from the college, O’Malley said he decided to leave the university last November.
People who knew Goh said the rampage followed a period of personal tumult for him. His brother, a US Army sergeant, was killed in a car accident last March, and his mother died in South Korea about a year ago. Court records showed he was also involved in a dispute with the owners of an apartment in Virginia who had evicted him and claimed he owed back rent.
Those killed in Oakland included six women and a man, ranging in age from 21 to 53, prosecutors said. The three wounded victims were released from the hospital on Tuesday.
The national origins of the dead were still being sorted out, but police and community leaders said they included immigrants from South Korea, Nigeria, the Philippines and two Tibetan refugees — one from India and one from Nepal. — Reuters