Parents Blame College for Killing Spree
OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - Parents of two students killed in a shooting spree at a private religious college claim Oikos University should have prevented the April 2012 killing of seven by refusing to let an angry former student back onto campus.
Yongmin Sim and Yeon Soon Sim sued Oikos University in Alameda Superior Court on behalf of their late daughter, Lydia Sim.
Mi Hwa Kim and Hyo Jung Kim filed a similar complaint in the same court on behalf of their late daughter, Grace Kim.
Seven people were shot to death and three were wounded on the morning of April 2, 2012 when a lone gunman opened fire in a classroom, The New York Times reported at the time.
The killer, One Go, 43, had dropped out of the university's nursing program. He was "angry with school officials over a tuition dispute", according to reports from the Times and The Associated Press.
Go fled but was captured at an Alameda Safeway store 5 miles from the college.
Oikos University is a small, private Christian college founded in 2004 by Pastor Jong Kim. Located in East Oakland near the Oakland International Airport, the school primarily caters to Korean immigrants and Korean-Americans.
Oikos says on its website that its mission is to "educate men and women to be the leaders to serve the church, local communities, and the world by using their learned skills and professions in the areas of biblical studies, music performance, Asian medicine and practical vocational nursing."
On the morning they were killed, Lydia Sim and Grace Kim were in class, when "One Go was permitted access and entry onto the Oikos University campus," the complaints state.
"One Go then proceeded to the classroom where he found and attacked a number of students including Lydia Sim. In the course of the attack, Lydia Sim was shot by One Go, and died in the school classroom," the Sims say in their complaint.
Both young women died of gunshot wounds. Sim was 21. Kim was 23.
Their parents claim Oikos knew about Go's behavioral problems before the shooting: "In or about 2012 and prior to the death of Lydia Sim, defendants Oikos Inc. [and] their agents and employees had interactions including arguments, disputes, and disagreements with one of their students known as One Go. In the course of these various interactions, defendants observed, witnessed, and was [sic] aware of One Go's behavior, emotional and physical condition, and conduct, which included oral and/or written communications, comments, threats, demands and warnings, that made it reasonably foreseeable that he would pose a serious danger to the health, safety, and welfare of other students and persons at Oikos University," the Sims' complaint states.
But despite knowing about Go's anger problems and his tendency to violence, the parents claim, Oikos was "negligent, careless, acted unreasonably and failed to comply with their duties" to protect other students from Go."
"In addition, defendants failed to ... perform a reasonable investigation into the circumstances and events which were leading up to the attack that resulted in the death of the decedent; failed to have policies and procedures in place to respond safely and reasonably to avoid and prevent such injuries; failed to train their agents, employees and personnel to act and respond in a safe and reasonable manner to avoid and prevent serious injury to their students; failed to provide adequate security, and failed to adequately warn and provide notice to their students to take reasonable precautions," the Sims' complaint states.
They say Oikos also failed to "control access and entry onto their premises; [and] failed to perform reasonable inspection of their premises."
Both families seek damages for wrongful death, negligence and loss of consortium.
They are represented by Philip Michels with Michels & Watkins of Los Angeles.
On Jan. 7 this year, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta found that One Go is not mentally fit to stand trial. Two psychiatrists independently concluded that he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, and has suffered from it for many years.
Go pleaded not guilty to seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. He will return to court on Jan. 28, for the judge to determine where he will be sent for therapy and medication until he is competent to stand trial.
Oikos University has a Web page dedicated to the victims of the April 2 shooting. The other five victims are Tshering Bhutia, Sonam Choedon, Doris Chibuko, Katleen Ping, and Judith Seymour.