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Guilty Verdict In 2014 Fatal Shooting At Seattle Pacific University

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
A sign at Seattle Pacific Univeristy on June 6, 2014, one day after campus shooting.

A jury has found Aaron Ybarra guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of a Seattle Pacific University student and wounding of two other students during a shooting two and a half years ago on the campus. The incident, which took place in June of 2014 on the campus in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood,  shocked school and city leaders alike.  At the time, Mayor Ed Murray called an emergency meeting of the Seattle City Council to address what he called "the epidemic of violence in the city." Aaron Ybarra, who was arrested shortly after the shootings, went on trial October 10. He did not deny that he fired the shots that killed 19-year-old Paul Lee and wounded the other students. But, he argued he didn't know what he was doing at the time and should be found legally insane.

During the trial, Ybarra testified that he was compelled by the voices of God and Satan and that he identified with Eric Harris, one of the Columbine shooters. During a police interrogation, Ybarra said Harris made "hate seem so exciting."

Prosecutors acknowledged that Ybarra may suffer from mental illness, but said that he was fully aware of what he was doing when he decided to shoot people on the campus of SPU. Ybarra had visited the campus prior to the day of the shooting.

In the end, the jury did not go for the insanity defense and instead found Ybarra guilty of premeditated first- degree murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of assault. He faces a life sentence.

Responding to the verdict, Seattle Pacific University issued a statement saying “while it marks the end of the criminal trial, it does not mark the end of the impact the act of violence had on the campus."

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.