OAKLAND, Calif. (MCT) — The suspect in a killing spree at a small Christian vocational school admitted to police that he took a .45-caliber handgun and four fully loaded magazines of ammunition to the campus, kidnapped one woman and shot several people before fleeing in a victim’s car, according to court documents released Wednesday.
One L. Goh, a 43-year-old South Korean national, was charged with seven counts of murder — all with special circumstances — and three counts of attempted murder. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said her office is considering whether to seek the death penalty.
“On Monday, April 2, One Goh committed crimes of such enormity and brutality that our community, our country and citizens around the world are left reeling,” O’Malley told reporters shortly after Goh was arraigned. “The scope of this murderer’s rampage is unprecedented in Alameda County.”
According to a law enforcement statement filed with the charges, Goh drove to a nearby Safeway less than an hour after the rampage that terrorized Oikos University and “admitted to shooting several people in Oakland.”
Goh confessed during a police interview, the statement said, and he “was positively identified by at least three witnesses and surviving victims as the person who entered the school … and started shooting.”
During a short but somber hearing in Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday, Judge Sandra K. Bean read the charges against Goh, who was largely hidden from view behind a glass enclosure, save for the occasional flash of red prison jumpsuit.
As Bean intoned the names of the dead and injured and the charges against Goh, the enormity of Monday’s carnage was hard to miss. “This is a serious and violent felony,” she said with each count of murder and attempted murder — charges compounded by the use of a firearm, the multiple counts, the taking of a hostage and the stealing of a car.
Goh, who was represented by a public defender, did not enter a plea. He will appear in court again on April 30.
Although the broad details of the attack were known before Goh’s court appearance, officials presented a different motive Wednesday.
Yes, the former nursing student had gone to the small campus in industrial East Oakland looking for a female administrator who was not there. When he could not find her, he took a 24-year-old school secretary hostage before lining up students in a classroom and shooting.
Goh had been a nursing student at the university “until November of last year, at which time he made the decision to leave the school,” O’Malley said. “There is some information that the defendant wanted some money back for tuition he had paid. … He did leave the school voluntarily. He was not expelled, and he was not asked to leave.”
Contrary to earlier descriptions from police, she said, “the information that we have received from some of the individuals who knew him at the school was that he was a loner and what some might call a loser, but he didn’t exhibit any behaviors that would have alerted anyone” that he was capable of such a shooting spree.
Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan on Tuesday had said Goh was upset that he had been expelled, had felt bullied and teased by fellow students, exhibited “behavior problems, anger management” problems and returned to campus looking for a particular administrator so he could settle a score.
On Wednesday, a school administrator who had yet to be interviewed by police told The Associated Press that she believed she was the woman Goh was looking for.
“I think he was looking for me. I have that weight on my shoulders, and I don’t know what to do with it,” said Ellen Cervellon, the Oikos nursing program director. Goh, she said, “was never forced out, he showed no behavioral problems and he was never asked to leave the program.”
O’Malley and other local officials have bemoaned the proliferation of guns in the community. Oakland City Council President Larry Reid, who represents the district where Oikos is located, on Monday blamed the shooting on the easy access to deadly weapons.
And at a tearful memorial for the victims Tuesday night, Mayor Jean Quan said such violence could have happened in any other U.S. city.
“This is America,” she said, “where you can find a gun easier than mental health services.”
(Staff writer Matt Stevens in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)