Students allowed to get belongings from school
April 6, 2012
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Police said Thursday they were investigating the possibility that a gunman who killed seven people at a tiny private Christian college had multiple targets that he intended to kill in his rampage.
A day earlier, police said the apparent target had been the director of the nursing program at Oikos University. However, Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said late Wednesday that the gunman had been seeking another female administrator, not the nursing director.
Officer Johnna Watson, a police spokeswoman, would not identify the other administrator but said she no longer works at the school. She did not clarify whether the nursing director could be among the group.
“We’re still looking at if there were any other intended victims as well. That’s part of our ongoing investigation,” Watson said Thursday. “We’re keeping the investigation open for the possibility if the suspect was intending to harm any other administrators.”
Meanwhile, students and staff were allowed to return to the school late Thursday to pick up their belongings.
The shooting suspect, One Goh, 43, has been charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder, plus a special circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders that could make him eligible for the death penalty.
He did not enter a plea or make a statement during his first court appearance Wednesday.
Police said Goh acknowledged forcing a woman from her office at gunpoint into a classroom, where he fatally shot several people before fleeing in one victim’s car, according to a police affidavit.
Nursing student Ahmad Sayeed said a gunman burst through the back entrance of the lecture hall holding a terrified school receptionist hostage and began randomly firing. The receptionist, Katleen Ping, 24, was among the slain.
Police arrested Goh about an hour after the shooting spree at a supermarket a few miles from campus.
In a Wednesday interview with The Associated Press, Oikos nursing director Ellen Cervellon said her conversations with several students and faculty members led her to believe the gunman was looking for her.
She said Goh had dropped out of the nursing program at the tiny private school around November and became angry when she told him the school could not refund all his tuition money.
Cervellon wasn’t on campus Monday when the rampage occurred. She did not return calls Thursday seeking further comment.
Later Thursday, several students and staff were allowed to go back inside the school for the first time since Monday’s shooting as police escorted them one-by-one to retrieve belongings they had left behind.
As he waited his turn, Tenzin Topchen, 26, stood anxiously while trying to calm his lingering fears.
“I’m nervous, very nervous,” Topchen said before quickly gathering his items and driving off in his silver Toyota Camry, which had been parked behind the school for three days.
Dechen Yangdon, 27, also waited nervously before two investigators took her inside. She is being hailed as a hero for intuitively locking her classroom door and turning off the lights after hearing gunshots. The shooter tried kicking in the door and then fired at it. No students were injured.
As investigators slowly walked Yangdon back inside the school Thursday, they shook her hand and praised her.
When Yangdon was later asked what it was like being back inside the school, she gave a blank stare, bowed her head, grabbed her husband’s hand and quickly walked away.
Moments earlier, a small group of school staff formed a small circle and prayed near a makeshift memorial of flowers and candles. Many openly wept and tried to console each other.
Lucas Garcia, 33, who teaches English as a second language at the school, said Thursday that he was teaching Monday when he heard gunshots rang out.
He then heard a voice yelling, “Somebody’s got a gun!”
Garcia said he quickly ordered his students to get up and they managed to escape through a back door, unharmed.
“We didn’t know what exactly was going on, but figured something terrible was happening,” he said. “There was total confusion and we were scared.”
Investigators have said Goh was angry about being teased for his poor English at the school, which is focused on serving Korean immigrants but is attended by students from around the world. Victims of Monday’s shootings came from a number of countries, including Korea, Nepal, Nigeria and the Philippines.
Goh was born in South Korea but became a U.S. citizen, police said.
Chong Sik Hwang, owner of C.H. Trading Co. in San Mateo, said he hired Goh as a deliveryman at the grocery importing and distribution operation in 2009 but fired him a few months later for arguing with a customer.
Hwang said Goh told him he was estranged from a wife and 12-year-old daughter on the East Coast. Records indicate Goh lived in Virginia from 2005 until about 2009, when he was evicted from his apartment.
Born Su Nam Ko, he filed a petition in February 2002 with the Circuit Court in Fairfax County, Va., to change his name to One L. Goh, records show.
The reason he listed on the petition was, “I do not like my current name because it sounds like girl’s name.”