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'I just want people to die,' Seattle college shooting suspect wrote, prosecutor says

By Michael Martinez and Jason Hanna, CNN
updated 3:38 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Ybarra's double-barrel shotgun malfunctioned, prosecutor alleges
  • Ybarra allegedly considered other campuses for shooting before choosing SPU
  • Aaron Ybarra is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder
  • Prosecutors will seek a special sentence of life in prison

(CNN) -- The suspect charged with murder in last week's shooting that left one person dead and two wounded at Seattle Pacific University wrote a journal entry on the morning of the shooting stating "I just want people to die, and I'm going to die with them," prosecutors said.

In the weeks before the shooting, Aaron Ybarra, 26, kept a journal in which he allegedly expressed "admiration for the perpetrators of other incidents of mass violence -- at Columbine High School and at Virginia Tech University," King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said.

Satterberg said the entries also indicate Ybarra had considered shooting people at other campuses in Washington state but chose SPU shortly before the incident. He wasn't a student at the school.

Ybarra is charged with one count of murder in the first degree and two counts of attempted murder in the first degree, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Prosecutors will seek a special sentence of life in prison, Satterberg said. Ybarra typically would face 69 to 86 years in prison if convicted of the charges, but prosecutors will argue that an aggravating factor -- a "destructive and foreseeable impact on persons beyond the victims" -- allows for a life sentence.

Ybarra is scheduled to be arraigned June 23, Satterberg said.

Counselors and friendly friends even showed Ybarra around the campus in the days before the shooting, and he allegedly carried out the minute-long shooting just before the academic year ended, Satterberg said.

Ybarra allegedly kept the journal in anticipation that he would die in the attack, the prosecutor said.

Ybarra allegedly went to the campus armed with a 12-caliber double-barrel shotgun with 50 rounds in his pockets. But the gun malfunctioned, rendering the double-barrel shotgun into a single-barrel one, the prosecutor said.

Ybarra allegedly fired only two shots -- killing one student and wounding two others -- before student security guard Jon Meis pepper-sprayed Ybarra's eyes and took away the shotgun, Satterberg said.

Meis put the shotgun in his office and returned to take a large hunting knife away from Ybarra, Satterberg alleged. Another student assisted in allegedly disarming Ybarra, kicking the knife out of reach, Satterberg said.

"Jon Meis is an authentic hero," Satterberg said. "He saved many more lives."

During the shooting, one student was wearing headphones and was oblivious to the noise and the fact that a shotgun was pointed at him, Satterberg said. The gunman decided not to shoot the students, Satterberg said.

"Just as suddenly as this crime erupted, it was over," Satterberg said. "The whole thing took less than a minute."

Ybarra is accused of fatally shooting Paul Lee, a 19-year-old student, in the back of the head, Satterberg said.

One of the wounded, a 19-year-old woman, underwent surgery after the shooting, Susan Gregg of Harborview Medical Center said. A second victim, a 24-year-old man, was discharged Friday, she said.

The shooting at the university on Thursday afternoon began when a man armed with a shotgun opened fire outside and inside Otto Harris Hall, which houses the engineering, math and science departments.

Ybarra has a history of mental health problems and was on suicide watch last week at the jail, public defender Ramona Brandes said.

Ybarra has "significant and long-standing mental health issues, including delusions that were in play" at the time of the shooting, she told reporters last week. "...He's on suicide watch for a reason. He did not think he was going to survive yesterday. He intended to die."

Brandes said Ybarra was aware of what happened.

"He is cognizant of the suffering of the victims and their families and the entire Seattle Pacific community," she said. "He is sorry."

Ybarra had had several run-ins with police in recent years. He was taken into custody in 2010 and 2012 for a mental health hold, Mountlake Terrace Assistant Police Chief Pete Caw told CNN. In both cases, authorities determined Ybarra was intoxicated, incoherent and suicidal, Caw said.

The image of the suspect as a gun-toting killer is a difficult one to reconcile for those who know him.

One friend described Ybarra as "socially awkward" but "appreciative," according to KOMO.

"I have no idea what set him off," said Nate Flesch. "That's why this whole thing kind of surprises me -- that he was trying to turn his life around, that he was trying to be a better person, and he was kind of working on his social skills, too."

CNN's Chelsea J. Carter, Greg Morrison, AnneClaire Stapleton, Suzanne Presto and Ben Brumfield contributed to this report.

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