Oakland college shooting survivor: 'Only three of us came out'
The 70-year-old nursing instructor always spoke of her students at Oikos University fondly. Her classes elsewhere always had a couple students who weren’t willing to put in the hard work it takes to be a nurse.
But the ones at Oikos, a small, tightknit Christian university with a young nursing school where students are a mix of the young and middle-aged and more likely to be immigrants from all over the world, they wanted to learn, the teacher would say. They were hard working, and clearly wanted to be there.
On Monday, the class was just sitting down to take a test when the door burst open and the unthinkable happened. A former student, One Goh, sprayed the classroom with bullets, police say. The instructor dropped to the floor.
By the time her friend and former student, Barbara, picked her up at the police station many hours later, she was still pale with fear.
“Only three of us came out,” the teacher said, according to Barbara, who asked that her full name and the instructor’s name not be used out of concern for their privacy.
“Is it true?” Barbara recalled the instructor asking, wanting to make sure even after being told by police that the gunman was in custody.
Barbara said the instructor is a longtime nurse and nursing teacher who taught her when she became a certified nursing assistant six years ago. The instructor asked Barbara, who specializes in home care and hospice, to come talk to her class at Oikos once each semester about death and dying.
The instructor said Goh was a pretty good student, who did his work and made flashcards for studying, Barbara said, but appeared to have personal issues.
After Monday’s shooting, the instructor and two female students remained frozen in the classroom amid students who had been shot. They were eventually rescued by police.
In the teacher’s mind “it took forever for help to arrive,” Barbara said. “The few left in there were too terrified to move.”
The instructor, who lives alone, stayed with Barbara on Monday night, waking up a few times in the middle of the night. The next morning, she wanted to take flowers to the makeshift memorial that had appeared at the school -– she chose hyacinths and tulips.
She stayed in the car, away from camera crews, as Barbara went to lay the flowers. When Barbara went to check on her during the day, the instructor was busily vacuuming, wanting to get her mind off Monday’s events.
At Tuesday night’s memorial for the victims, she sat in the back between Barbara and another instructor at the school, tightly clutching a rosary. She broke down in tears at the mention of students’ names. She had hoped to see one of the students in her classroom who survived, but she wasn’t there.
-- Victoria Kim in Oakland
Photo: Oakland police Officer Joe Kroushour straightens a sign in front of a memorial at Oikos University on Wednesday. Credit: Jane Tyska / Oakland Tribune