Former nursing student pleads not guilty in Oakland shooting rampage

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 30, 2012 9:14 PM
Former nursing student pleads not guilty in Oakland shooting rampage

By Ronnie Cohen

OAKLAND (Reuters) - A former nursing student accused of killing seven people and wounding three others in a shooting rampage at a tiny Christian college in Oakland pleaded not guilty on Monday to murder and attempted murder charges.

Accused gunman One Goh, a Korean-American who appeared in court shackled at the hands and feet and wearing red jail garb and sandals, is charged with seven counts of first degree murder, with special circumstances that make him eligible for the death penalty.

Goh, who entered the plea in Alameda County Superior Court through a Korean interpreter, also faces three counts of attempted murder linked to the April 2 shootings.

The April 2 shooting spree at Oikos University was the deadliest at an American college since 2007, when a Virginia Tech University student killed 32 people and wounded 25 others.

Prosecutors have not yet decided whether they will seek the death penalty against Goh, 43. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta set a preliminary hearing for June 25 in the case.

Goh, who was arrested shortly after the massacre, refused food for four weeks before he began eating again on Saturday, Sergeant J. D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office said.

Attending the court hearing was Wangchen Nyima, the brother of slain 33-year-old nursing student Sonam Choedon.

"I want to be here for my sister," Nyima said after the hearing. "I don't know why he's not guilty. I lost my sister."

Authorities said they believe Goh became angry after he dropped out of the nursing school last fall and administrators refused to refund his tuition.

According to court documents filed by prosecutors, Goh told investigators he went to the school in an industrial area of Oakland armed with a .45-caliber handgun and four magazines fully loaded with ammunition.

The document said Goh confessed to forcing an administrator from her office into a classroom at gunpoint. Inside the classroom, the court papers say, Goh killed several people before fleeing in a student's car.

Oikos, founded in 2004 by a Presbyterian minister, offers courses in nursing, music and theology to fewer than 100 students. It reopened last week for the first time since the slayings.

Goh was born Su Nam Ko in South Korea but changed his name in 2002 when he lived in Virginia, according to court documents. Last year, Goh's mother died in South Korea and his brother, a U.S. Army sergeant, died in a car accident.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Vicki Allen)