Idahoans talk about connection to Seattle shooting

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by Scott Evans

NWCN.com

Posted on June 6, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 6 at 5:08 PM

BOISE – As it is with most things in the Northwest, there's a strong tie to the shooting at Seattle Pacific University and the Treasure Valley.

Several students at the private university of roughly 4,000 students hail from the Treasure Valley.

Thursday afternoon, when students at Seattle Pacific University were studying for finals, the unimaginable happened.

A gunman, identified by police as 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra, entered Otto Miller Hall and opened fire.

Danny Ciaccio, a Centennial High School graduate, is now a junior at SPU and left campus shortly after the shooting.

"There was a huge texting chain that emerged throughout the whole SPU community, just everyone asking each other, 'You safe? You good?'" said Ciaccio.

The school immediately went into lockdown, police and paramedics were quickly on scene. The emergency response that played out was no accident.

Ashlee Rohnert grew up in Meridian and graduated from SPU in 2007. She worked with SPU's assistant director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

"It was right after Virginia Tech so we worked on looking at an alert system to notify everyone on campus," said Rohnert.

She saw that system play out Thursday, providing some order to a chaotic situation.

"That was a big part of, and I think one of the reasons why it wasn't worse than it could have been, because they had those systems in place," said Rohnert.

Another big part was the student security guard who used pepper spray to take down the shooter.

"Now that we're kind of in the national spotlight, our goal is to not make, to not give the attention to the shooter that he believes he deserves," said Ciaccio.

Now students are pushing the hash tags “Pray for SPU” and “Deny the Fame.”

"We're completely focused on our victims, our community," said Ciaccio.

Despite the end of school a week away, classes were canceled Friday to allow the students to mourn the three victims, one of whom died.

At a church across the street from campus students gathered for another vigil and to pray.

"No matter how much endless love and support we show for each other, evil is still going exist in this world and we just have to do our best to stay together when it does happen," said Ciaccio.

Police say Ybarra was not a student at the school. As for a motive, they have yet to figure that out.

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