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Former student pleads no contest in mass shooting at Oakland college

One Goh, David Klaus
One Goh, left, listens to his attorney, public defender David Klaus, in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland on April 30, 2012.
(Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)

A former nursing student pleaded no contest Tuesday to charges that he killed seven people in a shooting rampage at a small Christian vocational school in Oakland in 2012, prosecutors said.

One L. Goh, 48, was charged with seven counts of murder with special circumstances and three counts of attempted premeditated murder in connection with the slayings at Oikos University.

He is facing seven terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, Alameda County Dist. Atty. Nancy E. O’Malley announced Tuesday. His sentencing is set for July 14.

“The enormity and devastation of this mass shooting remains unprecedented in Alameda County,” O’Malley said in a statement. “With the conclusion of this case, we know that One Goh will never again be in the position to harm any member of our community.”

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Goh was armed with a .45-caliber firearm when he entered the college on April 2, 2012, pointed the weapon at a receptionist and forced her into his former classroom, prosecutors said. At his arraignment, authorities revealed that Goh had gone to the small campus in industrial East Oakland looking for a female administrator who was not there.

Inside the classroom, authorities said, Goh lined up students and fatally shot six. The 24-year-old school secretary was also killed, according to the district attorney’s office. During the shooting, prosecutors said, he tried to kill three others. Goh fled in a victim’s car, they said.

Goh, a South Korean national, was arrested about two hours after the shooting in front of a Safeway supermarket in an Alameda shopping center a few miles away, officials said.

According to court documents, Goh confessed during a police interview.

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He had been a nursing student at the university until November 2011, when he decided to leave the school voluntarily, O’Malley said. She said Goh was not expelled, although he told police he was.

At the time, she said, Goh was described as a loner “and what some might call a loser, but he didn’t exhibit any behaviors that would have alerted anyone” that he was capable of such a shooting rampage.

Former Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said in 2012 that Goh had felt bullied and teased by fellow students.

Goh was twice declared not mentally fit to stand trial.

In January 2013, a Bay Area judge found Goh was mentally incompetent to stand trial. Psychiatric evaluations determined that Goh suffered from long-term paranoid schizophrenia. Instead of being put on trial, he was held at a Napa State Hospital from April 2013 to February 2015.

Then, in July 2015, the director of the state hospital declared that Goh was mentally competent. His attorney challenged the director’s report and a competency trial was held months later.

The judge again ruled that Goh was not fit to stand trial because of his mental illness.

However, criminal proceedings were reinstated in April after three mental health professionals deemed Goh was mentally competent to stand trial.

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“The defendant’s mental illness has been at the forefront of the legal proceedings for the past five years,” the district attorney’s office said. “Taking into account loss of life, the violent actions of the defendant, as well as information regarding the defendant’s mental illness, we believe that the sentence is appropriate.”

Goh’s public defender, David Klaus, said his client was receiving treatment and medication for the past four years. Once Goh could fully understand the criminal proceedings, he was found competent to stand trial, Klaus said.

Rather than go through trial, his attorney said, Goh wanted to resolve the case and “bring closure to families of the victims.”

“He is deeply, deeply sorry for what happened,” Klaus said.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA


UPDATES:

3:40 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Goh’s public defender David Klaus.

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This article was originally published at 1:35 p.m.


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