Oakland, Calif. • An administrator at a small Christian university where seven people were killed this week said Wednesday she was the gunman’s primary intended target after she rejected his repeated requests for a refund of his tuition.
Ellen Cervellon, director of the nursing program at Oikos University, wasn’t on campus Monday when her former student, One Goh, came looking for her then went on his rampage.
Two days later, in an interview with The Associated Press, a shaken Cervellon said the murders are haunting her.
"I have that weight on my shoulders and I don’t know what to do with it," she said, her voice quavering. "Every single one of those students were going to be an excellent, excellent nurse. They’re in my heart, and they always will be."
Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan confirmed Cervellon was the apparent target. Officer Johnna Watson, a police spokeswoman, said later that police are looking into the possibility that other administrators had been targeted.
Goh, 43, was charged Wednesday with seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder, plus a special circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders that could make him eligible for the death penalty.
Shackled and showing little emotion, Goh said nothing during a brief court appearance other than a soft "yes" when the judge asked if he understood the charges. He did not enter a plea.
In a police affidavit, Officer Robert Trevino said Goh acknowledged going to Oikos on Monday with a .45-caliber handgun and four magazines of ammunition.
"He admitted to kidnapping a woman and forcing her from her office into a classroom at gunpoint," Trevino said in the statement. "He admitted to shooting and killing several people inside the classroom, before taking one of the victim’s car keys and fleeing the scene in the victim’s car."
Police arrested Goh about an hour after the shooting spree at a supermarket a few miles from campus.
A student wounded in the rampage said Goh burst into the classroom shouting and quickly began firing his weapon. Ahmad Sayeed was shot through the shoulder as he scrambled to get out with other panicked students.
The 36-year-old immigrant nursing student from Afghanistan says he did not understand what Goh was yelling, though he did hear him order students to line up in front of the classroom.
Sayeed said he has been this frightened once before — when the Taliban attacked his high school in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
"The exact thing happened at my school," Sayeed said. "The Taliban came in and killed five students. I was very afraid then, too."
Cervellon said Goh dropped out of the nursing program at the tiny private school around November but returned numerous times to ask her for a full tuition refund.
Goh got angry when she told him the school could not refund all his money because he had been enrolled for nearly half of the program, she said. Cervellon said she did not know how much Goh had paid in tuition.
Police have said Goh was seeking a female administrator when he went to the campus Monday. When he was told she wasn’t there, they said, he began shooting in classrooms, killing six students and a receptionist and wounding three others.
Jordan previously said Goh was angry after being expelled from the school, but Cervellon said he was never expelled and decided to leave on his own.
"He was never forced out, he showed no behavioral problems, and he was never asked to leave the program," she said. "He decided on his own to leave the program."
Police said they made contact with Cervellon after the AP story ran.
Jordan said investigators plan to interview her soon, and that many details were still unclear.Next Page >
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