A former nursing student allegedly opened fire in a small evangelical Christian college in Oakland, California on Monday morning, killing seven students and wounding three others. The incident is one of the deadliest college shootings in US history. It is also the worst mass killing in the Bay Area in nearly 20 years.
An hour after the shooting, the alleged gunman, 43-year-old One L. Goh, surrendered to police inside a supermarket several miles from the school, Oikos University.
According to witnesses, Goh first shot a woman at the front desk, then entered classrooms. Paul Singh, the brother of a 19-year-old woman wounded in the rampage, told Reuters that, according to his sister, Goh burst into a classroom and ordered the students to line up against a wall. Singh reported that his sister told him Goh said to the students, “Get in line and I’m going to kill you all.”
The shooting victims came from Korea, Nigeria, Nepal and the Philippines, and ranged in age from 21 to 40.
Other students in an adjoining classroom reportedly survived the attack by turning off the lights and locking the door. Goh apparently banged on the door and fired several rounds at it, before leaving.
Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan told the media that Goh had been expelled from the school. Jordan indicated that Goh had gone there Monday “with the intent of locating an administrator and she was not there. … He then went through the entire building systematically and randomly shooting victims.”
The police revealed that Goh had been dismissed from Oikos for “behavioral problems and anger management” issues. According to the police chef, Goh felt he had been mistreated by administration officials and complained about being teased by other students for his poor English. This “made him feel isolated compared to the other students,” Jordan told the press.
A witness who spoke to one of Goh’s former classmates said she told him the gunman had “seemed kind of weird and that he wasn’t all there, and people would pick on him.”
The institution is a peculiar one, to say the least. With less than 100 students enrolled, Oikos University is located in a large industrial park (“Tucked away behind a Walmart,” notes one local media outlet) near the Oakland airport. Oakland City Council president Larry Reid, who represents the district where the college is located, was unaware until Monday of its existence.
Founded in 2004 by pastor Jongin Kim of San Leandro, California, Oikos is affiliated with the Praise God Korean Church in Oakland. Kim is also associated with the Ezra Bible Academy, which he established in San Leandro in 1997.
The Oakland Tribune noted Tuesday, “Oikos University offers an eclectic range of programs aimed mostly at Korean students, including vocational nursing, music and theology, and requires them to attend church services and follow a strict code of conduct.”
The school’s web site explains: “At Oikos University, students are given the opportunity to obtain a Christian education that is based on solid Christian doctrine and ideology. Our main goal is to foster spiritual Christian leaders who abide by God’s intentions and to expand God’s nation through them.”
The web site’s philosophy section outlines the institution’s belief in the infallibility of the Bible, “the literal existence of Adam and Eve” and the biblical account of creation.
The alleged gunman, Goh, is a Korean-American. He apparently followed his parents and two older brothers to the US at an early age, first living in Fairfax County, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. He seems to have had some financial and perhaps other kinds of difficulties in the US. Goh owed “more than $23,000 in federal taxes at one point and thousands of dollars more to banks and apartment owners.” (Oakland Tribune) He later moved to the Bay Area and enrolled at Oikos, where he had disciplinary problems.
Goh’s brother, US Army Sgt. Su Wan KO, died in a traffic accident in Virginia in March 2011, “while on special assignment from the George C. Marshall Center, an international security and defense studies institute in Garmisch, Germany.” (Tribune) Goh and his father attended the funeral, as did his mother, who subsequently died.