Speaking to reporters after a court hearing in which a judge
ordered the suspect, Aaron Ybarra, 26, held without bail on
suspicion of first-degree murder and assault, defense attorney
Ramona Brandes also said her client had been involuntarily committed
in the past because of mental illness.
She added that Ybarra was sorry for the victims' pain.
The probable-cause statement filed in court by prosecutors said
Ybarra confessed to police detectives that he was the gunman in
Thursday's incident, that he had been planning a mass shooting and
wanted to kill as many people as possible before taking his own
Local media reports citing unidentified police sources have said
Ybarra, who is not a student at the college, was fascinated with
mass shootings at other schools, including the 1999 Columbine High
School massacre in Colorado.
Police offered no public explanation for why the suspect might have
singled out Seattle Pacific University, a Methodist liberal arts
college of some 4,000 students.
Ybarra is accused of walking into a building on the campus armed
with a shotgun and opening fire on three people before pausing to
reload his weapon.
At that point, police said, a student building monitor doused the
gunman with pepper spray and tackled him. Several bystanders jumped
in to help, seizing his gun. He was arrested minutes later by
police, who said the suspect also was carrying a hunting knife and
at least 50 rounds of shotgun ammunition.
SUSPECT WAS COMMITTED TWICE
In a statement read to reporters on Friday, Brandes said: "Mr.
Ybarra suffers from significant and long-standing mental health
issues, including delusions, that were in play during yesterday's
"I do not know at this point in time why Mr. Ybarra's illness
brought him to Seattle Pacific University, but I can tell you that
he recognizes the suffering of the victims and their families. He is
sorry for their pain," she said.
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Brandes said she did not know the circumstances of his prior
involuntary commitment. Police in Mountlake Terrace, a suburb south
of Seattle, said on Friday that Ybarra had been detained and
committed to mental health facilities twice after erratic behavior
in 2010 and 2012, without giving any details.
Citing unidentified police sources, local KIRO-TV said Ybarra had
visited the Columbine high school in Colorado where two students
killed a teacher and 12 classmates before taking their own lives in
A 19-year-old SPU freshman who was shot during the rampage died a
short time later. A 20-year-old woman remained hospitalized on
Friday in serious condition in the intensive care unit, although she
was conscious and breathing on her own.
A 24-year-old man was in satisfactory condition with pellet wounds.
A 22-year-old man was treated for minor injuries suffered in the
scuffle with the suspect, police said. The bloodshed in Seattle
marked the latest in a series of mass shootings at schools and other
public places across the United States in recent years that have
renewed a national debate over gun safety and mental illness.
Two weeks ago, a 22-year-old man stabbed three people to death and
fatally shot three others before taking his own life in a rampage
across a college town near the University of California at Santa
(Additional reporting by Jimmy Lovaas and Bryan Cohen in
Seattle; Writing by Steve Gorman and Eric M. Johnson; Editing by
Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)
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