By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Aaron Rey Ybarra, the Mountlake Terrace man accused in last week’s deadly shotgun rampage at Seattle Pacific University, told police he stopped taking medication for mental health issues because he “wanted to feel his hate,” according to charging documents filed Tuesday.
King County prosecutors on Tuesday charged Ybarra with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and assault. They will seek a life sentence for Ybarra, 26.
Ybarra is accused of killing student Paul Lee, 19, and injuring two other people in the attack on Thursday. He allegedly planned to kill many more but was subdued when his shotgun malfunctioned.
“The tranquility of the SPU campus was shattered by what we allege was the defendant’s long-premeditated plan to commit an act of mass violence,” King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a press conference Tuesday.
Satterberg said Ybarra kept a journal during the two weeks before the attack.
In his final entry, Ybarra wrote: “I just want people to die and I’m gonna die with them!”
Ybarra reportedly told detectives that he was inspired by the killers at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 and the man who shot and killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. All three shooters died during their attacks. Ybarra reportedly told detectives that was his plan as well.
“He stated that he just had a hatred for the world in general,” prosecutors wrote in charging papers.
Ybarra allegedly told detectives he scouted the SPU campus in the weeks before the attack, talking with students and a college employee. He visited Otto Miller Hall, where the shooting occurred, and checked for possible escape routes.
He brought 75 rounds with him, taking 50 rounds with him and leaving 25 in his truck.
Ybarra also allegedly considered carrying out attacks at Washington State University and Central Washington University but didn’t have time.
Mountlake Terrace police have encountered Ybarra at least three times in the past few years, records show. In 2010 and 2012, police took Ybarra to a hospital, recommending that he be involuntarily committed because of suicidal behavior. Last August, officers were summoned to his house because another family member allegedly was suicidal.
Ybarra also has a history of driving offenses, including a DUI arrest.
He is a former Edmonds Community College student who previously attended a home-school program in the Edmonds School District, which serves Mountlake Terrace.
In October 2010, Ybarra reportedly was intoxicated when Mountlake Terrace police became concerned he might harm himself. At the time, Ybarra listed his place of employment as the Kenmore Shooting Range.
Ybarra reportedly had called 911 from a location along Cedar Way. He said he was suicidal, wanted to hurt others and “had a rage inside him.” He was allegedly “very intoxicated” and reported having previous suicidal thoughts. He was taken to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation.
In October 2012, police reportedly found Ybarra intoxicated and lying in the middle of the street where he lived, records show. A passerby had called 911.
Ybarra told officers he wanted the “SWAT team to get him and make him famous. (He) said no one cares about him. He said he wants to die,” officers wrote at the time.
Satterberg on Tuesday credited SPU safety monitor Jon Meis for his quick action.
“Jon Meis is an authentic hero,” he said. “He fearlessly confronted a shooter who had fully planned on killing more innocent people.”
Meis showed courage in rushing toward danger instead of running away from it, the prosecutor said.
“In the defendant’s plan to murder innocent students, he did not anticipate the courage of Jon Meis,” Satterberg said. “Mr. Meis, though a reluctant and humble figure in this tragedy, undoubtedly saved many lives.”
If convicted, Ybarra faces 69 to 86 years in prison. Satterberg said prosecutors will seek a life sentence allowed under the law. It is based on an “aggravating factor, rarely used, but designed for this type of outrageous act of public violence,” he said.
Prosecutors asked that Ybarra be held without bail. If bail is set, they are seeking $10 million.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.