EATTLE (AP) — The man charged with killing one student and wounding two others at a small Seattle college last week had stopped taking his medications because he “wanted to feel the hate,” and he detailed his plans in a handwritten journal for two weeks before the attack, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
“I just want people to die, and I’m gonna die with them!” Aaron Ybarra wrote the day of the shooting, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said. Satterberg released new details of the allegations as he filed charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault against Ybarra, 26. Satterberg is seeking a sentence of life in prison.
Authorities say Ybarra has been held without bail and is on suicide watch at the county jail since a student pepper-sprayed him and ended the rampage Thursday at Seattle Pacific University.
Ybarra’s lawyer, Ramona Brandes, has said her client has a long history of mental issues but is aware of the trauma caused by the shooting and is sorry. She said Tuesday that no decision has been made yet on whether he will seek a mental-illness defense.
“We have to look at his symptoms he manifested in the past, his treatment and his jail records to determine whether his mental illness arises to the level of a defense. These are choices he’s going to be involved in,” Brandes told The Seattle Times. “He wasn’t on his meds and he committed an action that is incomprehensible. Had he been on his meds, would this have happened? We’ll continue asking that for all time.”
The journal, recovered by police from Ybarra’s truck that was parked near the shooting, reflects Ybarra’s admiration for the school shooters at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School but does not clearly explain why he targeted the Seattle college, Satterberg said.
Ybarra considered other universities — Washington State, Eastern Washington and Central Washington were mentioned — but apparently dismissed them because they were too far away, the prosecutor said.
Instead, weeks before the shooting, Ybarra took a tour of Seattle Pacific, a private Christian college in a leafy neighborhood north of downtown. He remarked on how friendly and helpful the academic counselor and students were who showed him around, Satterberg said. During the tour, Ybarra learned the academic year would soon end, solidifying his plans, Satterberg said.
Ybarra shot Paul Lee, 19, in the back of the head with a double-barreled shotgun outside Otto Miller Hall after Lee turned to run away, according to the charging documents. Some of the birdshot pellets struck another student, Thomas Fowler, standing several feet away.
He tried to shoot a woman nearby, but the gun misfired and she escaped, a detective’s probable cause statement said. Ybarra then entered the building, encountering a man seated at a table, the statement said. Ybarra ordered the man not to disrespect him, but did not shoot, the detective wrote — instead turning the gun on student Sarah Williams, who was coming down some stairs.