SEATTLE — The 26-year-old man charged with the shooting at Seattle Pacific University last week that killed one student and wounded two others meticulously planned the assault in a journal dated two weeks prior to the shooting, the King County prosecutor said Tuesday.
The defendant, Aaron Ybarra, drove by SPU’s Otto Miller Hall just a day before the rampage to make sure students would be around at the time of the shooting, prosecutor Dan Satterberg said. He even took a campus tour weeks before so he could kill as many students as possible, he added.
“His final journal entry was on the morning of the shooting, where he wrote about his excitement. He wrote, ‘I just want people to die and I am going to die with them,’” Satterberg said.
Ybarra told police he suffered from OCD and transient psychosis but stopped taking his medications six months before the June 5 shooting because “he wanted to feel his hate,” Satterberg said.
The gunman first shot 19-year-old Paul Lee in the back of the head outside Otto Miller Hall, killing him. Pellets from that shot hit student Thomas Fowler in the neck; Fowler was not badly injured. Once inside, the gunman pointed the weapon at another male student.
“The defendant decided not to shoot that student and, when the student realized what happened, he ran to safety,” Satterberg said.
The gunman turned his attention instead to Sarah Williams as she was walking down the stairs.
“He shot her from a few feet away,” Satterberg said.
Williams was critically injured and underwent five hours of emergency surgery. She has since been upgraded to satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center. She issued a statement Tuesday in which she said, “I am healing and getting stronger.” Click here for that story.
As the shooter stopped to reload, student and building monitor Jon Meis pepper-sprayed him, disarming him not once but twice.
“Jon Meis is an authentic hero. He removed the shotgun from the scene, hiding it in his office, and returned in time to disarm him for a second time of a large hunting knife,” Satterberg said.
Another student jumped in to keep the gunman down on the ground until police arrived.
Ybarra was planning to use the hunting knife to kill himself, Satterberg said.
SPU students say they are glad he will now pay for what he did.
“He definitely deserves all the punishment that’s coming his way,” student Jordan Green said.
The parents of the suspect want privacy they tacked a note on the door of their Mountlake Terrace home saying they were also grieving for the students who were killed. But neighbors describe Ybarra as strange.
“Uncomfortable, he kind of kept his gaze down,” Don Hicks said.
As SPU students take their finals this week, they are still trying to get a grip on the tragedy.
“Just the cowardice that comes with hate, there is no reason for it, no logic,” Green said.
Ybarra told police he was motivated by killers in other mass shootings, specifically Columbine High School in Colorado and Virginia Tech University, Satterberg said.
He said he thought about targeting Washington State University and Central Washington University, but didn’t have the time to plan for those schools so he randomly chose SPU, Satterberg said.
Satterberg, who charged Ybarra with murder and attempted murder, said they would seek an exceptional sentence of life in prison in Ybarra’s case.
His next court appearance is set for June 23.