Oikos University Memorial: Oakland College Holds Service For Shooting Victims
OAKLAND, Calif. -- About 100 people wept and consoled each other Tuesday while gathering in a steady downpour to mourn the seven people killed last week at a tiny Christian college where a gunman opened fire in classrooms.
Officials from Oikos University and local leaders offered condolences on the school steps decorated with flowers. Photos of the six students and school secretary who were slain lined the entrance, and sympathy cards were tacked to the boarded-up main doors.
The school's founder and president, Jongin Kim, told mourners under two tents that people connected to the school have been encouraged by an outpouring of support from around the world since the April 2 incident.
"We understand how important it is to continue this mission, which will unquestionably continue despite this tragedy," Kim said. "We may be a small institution, but we believe that God has greater purposes and has led our school to this point for a reason."
The school focuses on serving Korean immigrants but is attended by students from around the world. Victims of the shooting came from a number of countries, including Korea, Nepal, Nigeria and the Philippines.
Also in attendance at the memorial were Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. They reiterated that the entire region is behind the grieving campus.
"It is very difficult I know," Lee told the crowd. "We all will get through this together."
Later, mourners placed flowers on a table near photos of the victims. Among the mourners was Efanye Chibuko, whose wife, Doris Chibuko, 40, of San Leandro was killed at the school. He touched his wife's photo and bowed his head on the table.
"I am here to grieve for my wife and the other victims," he said somberly.
Suspect One Goh, 43, a native of South Korea and former student at the school, has been charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in the deadliest campus attack since the shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007. He has not yet entered a plea.
Police have said Goh was targeting an administrator who had been involved in his financial dispute with the school. When he learned she wasn't there, police say, he began shooting in classrooms. Police are also investigating whether Goh might have been seeking multiple targets.
During the memorial, Oikos nursing program director Ellen Cervellon – who believed she was the intended target of the attack – praised the victims she called the "Loved Seven."
In addition to Chibuko, the other victims were Judith Seymour, 53, of San Jose; Grace EunHea Kim, 23; Lydia Sim, 21, of Hayward; Bhutia Tshering, 38, of San Francisco; and Sonam Choedon, 33, of El Cerrito; and secretary Katleen Ping, 24, of Oakland.
"They came in July, a year ago. They came with hope ... to work as a nurse, to care for people," Cervellon said about the victims.
Jeong Gwan Lee, the Korean Consul General in San Francisco, told mourners the incident is an appropriate time for the Korean community to pause for reflection.
"This is not a time to blame one another, but to console and empathize with each other," Lee said.
Oikos officials also announced the creation of a fund to support the victims and their families.