NEWS

Student Building Monitor Stops Campus Shooter

By Megan Gates

A shooter at Seattle Pacific University killed one person and wounded three others before being stopped by a student building monitor who sprayed him with pepper-spray Thursday afternoon. The suspected shooter, Aaron Ybarra, 26, of Mountlake Terrace, was then tackled and held to the ground by the monitor and others until he was taken into police custody.

According to The Seattle Times, the gunman was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, skater sneakers, and jeans. He entered Otto Miller Hall just before 3:30 p.m. and shot three people with a shotgun. Jon Meis, a student working in the building as a building monitor, pepper-sprayed Ybarra as he stopped to reload, put him in a chokehold, and took him to the ground. “Then other students and faculty members rushed to hold the shooter down until police arrived,” the Times reports.

The university was placed on lockdown at 3:34 p.m. as authorities rushed to the scene in Otto Miller Hall, which houses science, engineering, mathematics, and physics classes on the 10-acre campus approximately 10 minutes from downtown Seattle. The university announced the lockdown via a message on its Web site, telling the campus community to stay in buildings, move to a securable area, and to lock all doors. The alert also told people to shelter in place until the all clear was given. It also sent out updates via Twitter throughout the lockdown.

University President Daniel J. Martin was on campus at the time of the lockdown and gathered with other university officials to monitor the situation. From their location, they were able to look in at the security camera feed within Otto Miller Hall to see the activity that was taking place. Martin said that they used this feed to ensure that everyone responsible for the shooting was apprehended by law enforcement before lifting the campus lockdown at 5:59 p.m. that evening.

In an emotional interview with a local television station, Martin described watching the feed as police officers responded. “My first reaction was one of heartbreak that an act of this nature could occur on this campus, but I was grateful for those that responded and the shooter was apprehended, and that no other tragedies and impacts were made to individuals and those on this campus,” Martin said

Martin also praised the efforts of Meis, who used pepper spray to distract the shooter, and the students who helped subdue the gunman. “One of the things we believe as a campus community is that we are a community…and that any acts we could take that could help others, that could serve others, in the moment, to recognize that and act,” Martin explained. “And certainly, those that were involved did just that.

Those injured in the shooting were taken to Harborview Medical Center. One of the victims, “a 19-year-old man who was taken in critical condition” to the hospital was pronounced dead on arrival, the Times reports. Another 20-year-old woman was taken to the hospital and was in critical condition as of Thursday night. Two other victims, men ages 24 and 22, were also taken to the hospital and said to be in “satisfactory condition.”

Ybarra is being held at the King County Jail for investigation of murder and no motive was immediately given for the shooting. When he was apprehended, Ybarra was reported to be carrying extra shotgun shells and a knife, according to the Times.

All classes at the university that were scheduled for Friday were cancelled. The university is also making grief counselors available for students and staff members, and Otto Miller Hall has been “closed for the foreseeable future.”
 

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