East Bay News

Shooting rampage suspect's motive was revenge

Tuesday, April 03, 2012
divers One Goh Forensic teams arrive to site of Oikos University shooting OPD boat Oikos University Families around world grieve after mass shooting Hayward nursing student killed at Oikos University Tshering Bhutia Sonam Choedon Alameda Safeway where the Oakland shooter was taken into custody Oikos University shooting Police update on the shootings at Oikos University in Oakland.

Oikos University in Oakland remained closed Tuesday as police continued their investigation into a shooting rampage that killed seven people and wounded three others Monday.

Police say the man accused of opening fire is cooperating, to a point, and has discussed his motive. That suspect, 43-year-old One Goh will have his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. He is being held without bail on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, and carjacking.

Newly-released 911 calls are also revealing the desperation and fear in those who escaped the deadly shooting rampage.

Already having a confession and knowing the motive, Oakland police are looking for the last piece of the puzzle -- the weapon. They believe the murder weapon is in an estuary that runs alongside Shoreline Center Park off Doolittle Drive near Oakland International Airport. A full-scale search started there Tuesday morning. Police have not said exactly why they think the gun is there, but they have some sophisticated tools looking for it.

Oakland police called in special sonar equipment from the San Francisco Police Department to find the gun. "This equipment is capable of detecting items that may be in the water. We are specifically looking for the handgun," Officer Johnna Watson said. Searchers played out the cord on a robotic sonar scanner that skims below the surface, scanning the bottom. "And, it works off of sending waves to the bottom. And, if it identifies an object, which would be in this case, we're looking for a handgun, it should be able to identify some type of object, and then at that time, we would call divers in to explore that," Watson explained.

Since early Tuesday morning, officers have tethered the sonar robot back and forth in a grid pattern along the estuary. Police say the shooter has been cooperating, but only to a point. "And, has not provided investigators with the exact location of where he discarded the firearm," Watson said. She would say only that investigative leads brought officers to the estuary.

Marketing consultant Ben Darling was in a nearby parking lot about the time of the shooting on Monday. "There was three other cars in the parking lot yesterday. I know there are several people who come here and take naps at lunch time and what not, so they may have seen something if someone were to throw a weapon out in the water," he said.

The Coast Guard joined the search Tuesday afternoon, bringing in some sonar equipment of their own. San Francisco police also brought in a boat equipped with sonar, but kept it docked until just before 5 p.m. It seemed the water had gotten so low, it made scanning for the weapon very difficult. Police confirmed that they are looking for a semi-automatic handgun.

Divers searched for several hours Tuesday night at the bottom of the estuary in a way described as making snow angels in mud. There are about 25 divers rotating in and out of the water, only one or two at a time. The searchers are from the Alameda County Sheriff's office volunteer dive team and colleagues on shore guide them using a rope line. Before the dive, test objects weighing about the same as a gun were tossed into the water. The search area goes out 90 feet from the shoreline.

Goh has told police he bought the weapon at the BullsEye Castro Valley Gun Shop in back in February. According to our media partner, The Oakland Tribune, all indications are the gun was sold legally.

It will take days to collect all of the evidence inside the building where the shootings took place. Oakland police are relying on a number of agencies to help with the investigation including the San Francisco Police Department and the FBI.

Early Tuesday morning, forensic teams took over the building at the scene of the shooting. Investigators and technicians entered in protective gear to avoid contaminating the crime scene. A mobile lab was brought in to begin collecting and analyzing some of the evidence.

"This is a large crime scene. We had a lot of victims and we want to make sure we are very detailed so they are processing and that may go for several days," Watson said. "It's just reconstructing the crime scene, how he got in there, where he went, what he did," explained a former FBI agent Rick Smith.

Police again confirmed that One Goh, a former student, arrived at the school looking for an administrator. He was apparently angry with the college. "The administrator was not there. That's when we know that he took a hostage. He entered a classroom with the hostage. He directed the students to line up against the wall. Before they had an opportunity to do that, he did open fire on the students," Watson said.

The big question has been what drove One Goh to commit such a horrible crime? What was his motive? Police Chief Howard Jordan says one Goh was especially angry at a female school administrator and that she was apparently the target of his violent rage. Police did not identify her, but say she was not on the campus at the time. "We do know that he was upset at administrators at the school. We do know that he was upset with several students here because of the way he was treated when he was enrolled here two months ago," Chief Howard Jordan said at a news conference early Tuesday morning.

Goh told investigators he wanted to get back at the school for expelling him for bad behavior and he also had a grudge against classmates for teasing him. "We do know that he was upset at several students here because of the way he was treated when he was enrolled here two months ago," Jordan said. He told investigators students treated him differently. Some, he said, even stopped talking to him.

Those may be the suspect's motives for the mass murders, but ABC7 has learned that he was also a troubled person in other aspects of his life, troubles that could have helped put him over the edge. His brother Su Won Ko, with whom he was especially close, was an Army Sgt. who was killed last year in a car accident while he was training for the Special Forces. One Goh also had a mountain of financial problems when he lived in Virginia, prior to moving to the Bay Area. He was heavily in debt to banks and apartments, and had tens of thousands of dollars in liens, one from the IRS. At one time, he owed more than $2,300 in taxes. Goh had a hunting license so he was also probably very familiar with firearms.

Police say Goh had been planning the attack since he was kicked out of school in January. "He then went through the entire building systematically and randomly shooting victims," Jordan said. Police say Goh shot his tenth and final victim outside the school and took that person's car to a supermarket in Alameda where he told an employee he had just shot some people and phoned his father to admit what he had done. Police arrested him without incident. "He has not been particularly remorseful, but very cooperative with us," Jordan said.

In fact, Goh even answered another perplexing question investigators had. Why did he drive to the South Shore parking lot in Alameda after the shooting? Investigators say he told them he simply wanted to get away from the area, no other reason.

The shooting occurred at 10:33 a.m. on the 7800 block of Edgewater Drive. Goh, described as an Asian male in his 40s, with a heavy build, entered the school and told victims to line up before shooting.

When police arrived at the scene, they found multiple victims as well as students hiding in locked classrooms. There were 10 victims total; five died at the scene, another two died after being transported to a local hospital, and three victims survived the shooting. The seven deceased victims were mainly students, one of them employed as a secretary. The six women and one man who were killed were all adults ranging in age from 21 to 40, and were from several different countries, including Korea, Nigeria, Tibet, and the Philippines.

Five victims of the mass shooting have now been identified. They are 21-year-old Lydia Sim, 23-year-old Grace Kim, 24-year-old Katleen Ping, 33-year-old Sonam Choedon, and 38-year-old Tshering Bhutia.

Highland hospital confirmed Tuesday morning that the last of the three surviving victims was discharged Monday night.

One of the surviving victims, Dawinder Kaur, 19, is a nursing student from Santa Clara. She was treated and released Monday afternoon after suffering a gunshot wound to her right arm. She told ABC7 was doing OK. Recalling the incident she said, "He just stood up in class and decided to shoot us." She explained that she tried to help her friend by picking her up after she fell to the ground and that's when Kaur got shot in the arm.

38-year-old Tshering Bhutia was murdered when Goh carjacked him at the college before using his vehicle to get away. Bhutia, the only man killed in the shooting, was a Buddhist immigrant from the Himalayas who was attending the college to become a nurse. He lived in a residential hotel in San Francisco's North Beach. His landlord told ABC7 he called to check on the nursing student when news of the shooting broke, but got no answer. Bhutia immigrated from India several years ago, worked nights as a janitor at San Francisco International Airport, and attended classes during the day.

On Tuesday, firiends remembered Bhutia as a caring person. "He was one of the gentlest souls and perennially upbeat. Not surprising to me that he was pursuing nursing," Sandy Close said.

Dechen Yangzom, a nursing student who's only been in Oakland for three months, may have stopped others from being wounded or even killed. She heard the shooting in a classroom next door, so she locked the door and turned off the lights. She and her classmates lay flat on the floor and after some tense moments, the gunman passed and no one was hurt in her classroom.

"He [started] shooting [at] the door. I think it was three or for times he shot at the door and maybe he thought nobody was inside because it was dark and he could not see anything. And then I think he moved onto the other room, I could hear the gun banging and suddenly a lady, she was asking for help," said Yangzom.

Goh fled the scene after commandeering Bhutia's car and he was taken into custody around 11:30 a.m. at the South Shore Center in Alameda, about five miles from the school. A security guard approached Goh because he was acting suspiciously; the guard said Goh told him he needed to speak to police because he had shot several people. The security guard then called Alameda police and Goh was taken into custody without incident. He was later transferred to Oakland police custody.

A source told ABC7 Goh called his father to tell him everything that happened. We've learned that Goh stayed with his 72-year-old father part of the week at a senior apartment complex in Oakland. Police escorted 72-year-old Yong Nam Ko away Monday afternoon and sealed the unit.

Investigators spent several hours looking over the scene in Alameda, including the portion of the parking lot where the suspect's Honda was parked.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Mayor Jean Quan called the shootings a "terrible tragedy." She commended Oakland emergency personnel for their quick response.

Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement, "The tragic loss of life at Oikos University today is shocking and sad. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and friends and the entire community affected by this senseless act of violence."

Oikos University is a Christian school that offers courses of study in Asian medicine, theology, music and nursing. It was founded in 2004, by Jongin Kim, currently the school's president. It is licensed by the Bureau for Private Post-Secondary and Vocational Education, which reports no complaints against the school. According to financial records, Oikos took in $1 million in 2010. It is affiliated with the Praise God Korean Church of Oakland and Shepherd University in San Francisco.

The police chief said the university will be closed indefinitely.

Quan said at a Monday evening press conference that the city is looking for additional Korean-speaking crisis counselors.

The city of Oakland has set up a crisis line for anyone who has been impacted by the shooting. The crisis line, run in partnership with Alameda County Behavioral Health Care and Catholic Charities of the East Bay, can be reached at 510-567-8109.

ABC7's Terry McSweeney, Katie Marzullo, Mark Matthews, Lyanne Melendez, and Vic Lee contributed to this story.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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