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Police: SPU Student Disarmed Gunman In Shooting That Left 1 Dead, 3 Injured

A Seattle Pacific University student managed to subdue a suspected gunman after four people were injured, one fatally, during a shooting on campus Thursday afternoon. 

Police said a young man entered Otto Miller Hall with a shotgun and opened fire shortly before 3:30 p.m. The gunman was reloading when a student, who was working as the building monitor, confronted and subdued the gunman using pepper spray. 

"Once on the ground, other students jumped on top of them, and they were able to pin the shooter to the ground until police arrived," said Seattle Police Capt. Chris Fowler.  

Police placed 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra in custody shortly after the shooting. Police said the suspect, who is not a student at the school, had additional rounds and a knife on him.  

"If not for the great response from people at SPU, this might have been much more tragic," said Assistant Seattle Police Chief Paul McDonaogh.

Officers were initially searching for a second suspect, but later said they believe the shooting was the act of a lone gunman. Investigators have not determined a motive. 

'The Victim Was Panicking'

Credit Ted S. Warren / AP Photo
AP Photo
Seattle Police SWAT officers run toward a campus building following a shooting at Seattle Pacific University on Thursday, June 5, 2014, in Seattle.

Student Chris Howard said he was working in the machine shop when another student ran in, bloody, "frantic" and "asking how secure the room was."

"He had two marks on his neck, apparently from a shotgun — a minor injury, like he was awake and conscious through the entire deal," he said. "We were scrambling to lock the outside door, to get the first aid kit off the wall, get gauze on him, do the best we could."

Howard said he eventually left the building to try to find help for the injured student. 

"So I got out and I saw one of the seniors I know kneeling next to someone that was lying on the ground. So I'm like, 'That's fishy. That's really fishy.' So I run over there," he said. 
The victim's shirt was red, said Howard, and she had what looked like a tourniquet on her arm.

"And at that point, I was told to help her, get her head up on my lap so that, you know, she could breathe easier and such," he said. "And the victim was panicking. That's the only way to say it."

Police and medics soon arrived to transport the victims. 

The victims were taken to Harborview Medical Center where a 19-year-old man later succumbed to his injuries. A 20-year-old woman with critical injuries was taken to surgery, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said, and the remaining two victims were in satisfactory condition. 

The campus was placed under lockdown for approximately two and a half hours. All Friday classes have been canceled. 

'Friends, We Have Been Here Before'

Credit Ted S. Warren / AP Photo
AP Photo
A woman prays at a service at the First Free Methodist Church Thursday, June 5, 2014 at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, where a shooting took place Thursday afternoon

Students, faculty and community members gathered at Free First Methodist Church Thursday evening for a tearful prayer service. 

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who addressed the students and the media at the scene of the shooting, shared a somber message. 
"Once again, the epidemic of gun violence has come to Seattle," the mayor said. "But friends, we have been here before. Cafe Racer, the shootings on Capitol Hill, the shooting at the Jewish Federation. This is a tragic moment for Seattle and a tragic moment for America once again."

"To see gun violence erupt at a place of higher education shocks all of us," said Gov. Jay Inslee in a statement. "Our schools should be safe havens. And so should our homes, our streets and our workplaces. We need to do more to prevent violence throughout our state.”

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.