Religious school gunman 'stood up and began shooting'
A man suspected of killing seven people at a small religious college in Oakland on Monday is a former student who "stood up and began shooting” inside a classroom, Oakland's police chief said.
At a press conference, Chief Howard Jordan said the gunfire began in the classroom but that "shots were fired throughout the building." He said it's unclear whether the assailant targeted his victims or shot randomly. He said the police are not aware of a motive.
Witnesses described a heavy-set Asian man in his 40s calmly opening fire at the college in an industrial area near Oakland International Airport, which has a largely Korean student body of about 100.
The suspect was arrested at an Alameda shopping center a few miles from Oikos University.
The gunfire rang out after 10 a.m., sending students and faculty diving for cover and running for their lives.
Timothy Yi, pastor at the Hayward Korean Baptist Church, arrived at the scene in search of information about a member of his flock, Lydia Sim, 21, who was enrolled at the college. “We tried to call her and she didn’t answer,” Yi told The Times. He added, “I’m kind of shocked.”
Police officers held up a large white tarp to shield the work of coroner's officials as they moved the bodies of victims from a wide grassy median into a van. Strips of bright yellow crime-scene tape cordoned off the area, keeping onlookers a block away.
Larry Reid, Oakland’s City Council president who represents the part of the city where the college is located, expressed deep sorrow over the day’s “senseless violence … by an individual who has a gun and isn’t afraid to use it.”
“It’s just another sad day in my city,” Reid said.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said city officials spent the day reaching out to community members with support services. But she said, “There are still a lot of questions remaining.”
School officials told local media that the suspect may have been expelled from the school or dropped out.
According to its website, Oikos University is a Christian university "established specifically to serve the community of Northern California in general and San Francisco and Oakland areas in particular." The school is not far from Oakland International Airport and the Oakland Coliseum.
--Maria L. LaGanga in Oakland and Matt Stevens in Los Angeles
Photo: A body lies outside a coroner's van outside Oikos University in Oakland on Monday. Credit: Noah Berger / Associated Press