Police: Actions of students, staff 'define Seattle Pacific'


by KING 5 News


Posted on June 5, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 6 at 10:37 AM

SEATTLE -- Police said the shooting at Seattle Pacific University on Thursday was not a reflection on the school or the city.

"The actions of the student and staff on site, those are the things that define Seattle Pacific University,” said SPD Assistant Chief Paul McDonaugh. “This story is not about an evil act but about the people who lived through this scenario and assisted each other when things were pretty tragic.”

Police took a 26-year-old man into custody after the shooting that left a 19-year-old man dead and three other people injured. Seattle Police have identified the suspect as 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra.

After hours of waiting, police served a search warrant late Thursday night at a house where they believe the suspect lived.

Students and staff came together after the incident rocked the small Christian school located in the residential Queen Anne neighborhood. The university canceled evening classes Thursday, as well as all classes and activities on Friday. Nearly a thousand people gathered at the First Free Methodist Church on campus in the evening to pray for the victims.

"The SPU community is certainly saddened by the events today, by this tragedy and senseless act that we've experienced as a community," said SPU President Daniel Martin. "We're grateful for the Seattle Police Department, for our first responders who helped us control the situation. We're pulling together as a campus community, offering support and counseling for our students, our families."

Four victims were taken to Harborview Medical Center. A spokesperson for the hospital said a 19-year-old man died, a 20-year-old woman is in critical condition and in surgery, a 24-year-old man and a 22-year-old man are in satisfactory condition. One of those two men was not shot and may be released Thursday night.

Seattle police reported that students worked together to subdue the lone suspect after he entered Otto Miller Hall and shot three victims. A student security guard disarmed the suspect with pepper spray as he began reloading a shotgun, and other students helped pin him down until the police arrived.

"The shooter began to reload his shotgun and a student that is the building monitor inside the hall confronted the shooter, was able to subdued the individual, and once on the ground, other students jumped on top of him and were able to pin the shooter to the ground until police arrived," said Seattle Police West Precinct Capt. Chris Fowler.

The suspect was arrested and taken to police headquarters. A source with Seattle police said the suspect is from the Seattle area and confessed to the shooting, and had "an intent."

The source added that the suspect was still talking to detectives and had minor injuries, but would be taken to jail, not the hospital, after questioning.

An SPU professor said he did not recognize the suspect. He called the student who subdued the suspect a "hero who saved lives."

The shooting quickly changed the mood on the quiet campus.

"You're visiting. Everything's beautiful, it's a beautiful campus. We're having a wonderful day spending time with one another, visiting. And then the dynamic completely changes and it's chaotic. It's very disturbing," said one parent who was visiting her daughter on campus.

The initial call about the shooting came in at 3:23 p.m., according to SPD. Officers responded within four minutes.

The campus went into lockdown and one student described the lockdown as being in a "silo." She added that the shooting didn't seem real until she was allowed outside.

“You think minimally until you actually walk outside and you see victims," I see one of my friends outside who’s bloodied and I have to say, ‘Are you okay?’ That’s when terror starts to ensue," Briana Clarke said. "You don’t see all those ambulances, those 10 to 12 police officers until you walk outside. Then it becomes real.”

School staff was available to meet with students on campus at the Upper Gwinn Commons as well as in residence hall lobbies.

Seattle Police initially tweeted they were searching for a second suspect on the campus, but later said no additional suspects were being sought. The FBI was on scene offering assistance, which a spokesperson said is routine for any major incident.

SPU was in lockdown most of the afternoon as SWAT cleared the campus and students were evacuated. During this time, students were advised to not leave the buildings and to close window coverings and move away from the windows.

About 4,270 students attend the private Christian university, which was founded in 1891 by the Free Methodist Church of North America. Its 40-acre campus is in a residential neighborhood of Queen Anne, about 10 minutes from downtown Seattle.

King County Metro said a number of buses were rerouted off of West Nickerson Street: 13, 29, 31, 32 and 62.

Seattle Public Schools said some students were unable to get home or to after-school programs due to road closures.

Associated Press contributed to this report.