Shooting rocks WSU campus

·4 min read

Sep. 26—PULLMAN — Pandemonium broke out early Saturday morning near the Washington State University campus after multiple gunshots ultimately left one man dead and another severely injured.

Students and visitors described the terrifying moments when they jumped out of windows and fled the area on foot in the aftermath of the deadly shooting. Many of them had been at a huge house party on College Hill when the shots rang out.

"We were at the party," said Naomi Cares, 18, of Moscow, "and our friend saw it. She came back inside and said, 'Don't freak out, but bullets are flying everywhere.' "

At first, the revelers couldn't believe what was happening. When reality sunk in, chaos ensued, Cares said. People were ducking and running for cover throughout the neighborhood.

"There were 200 people there, and everyone started running everywhere," said Te'a Farrell, 18, of Moscow. "We jumped out the window and ran. I kept thinking I'm not ready to die. It was so scary."

In the hours that followed, Pullman police made one arrest and called the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab to help investigate. George Melvin Harris III, 23, is behind bars at the Whitman County Jail on a second-degree assault charge and was allegedly involved in the shooting. Shooting victim Liban A. Barre, 23, of Kent, Wash., died at Pullman Regional Hospital, and WSU student Brandon C. Gray, a 22-year-old wide receiver on the football team, remains in serious but stable condition at a Spokane hospital.

Each man was shot multiple times, said Police Cmdr. Jake Opgenorth. Investigators are still gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses to determine what led to the early morning violence involving a semi-automatic handgun.

Police were called around 12:30 a.m. to the 1200 block of Myrtle Street for a report of a loud party with possibly 200 in attendance, Opgenorth said. Officers heard multiple gunshots as they approachedthe area and discovered two men on the ground near Williams Drive and Lybecker Road. At this point, it's unknown whether the party and shootings are connected.

Officers began life-saving measures before the gunshot victims were taken by ambulance to the Pullman hospital, where Barre succumbed to his injuries. Gray was taken by Life Flight helicopter to Spokane.

A group of student-athletes who live near the street now covered with evidence markers said it was a terrifying experience. All was quiet in the neighborhood near Trinity Lutheran Church around noon Saturday, but the previous hours had been harrowing, they said.

"The gunshots woke us up," said Grace Himango, 21, of Bellingham. "At first, I thought it was the frat guys lighting off fireworks, because they do that sometimes. Then when the cops and ambulances started arriving, it was really shocking and scary."

Her roommate, Sam Schmidt, 21, of Pasco, was sound asleep when the shots were fired. The women, who are members of the rowing team, were not at the party.

"I thought it was a bad dream, and I turned over and went back to sleep," Schmidt said. "I don't know if that's good or bad. We had our fans on, which blocked out some of the noise."

Nate Pendleton, 22, of Sammamish, lives a block away and could hear rapid-fire shooting.

"I've never heard someone emptying an entire clip like that, especially in Pullman," Pendleton said. "I was awake when it happened, and everyone started running through my yard. We all locked the doors and stayed bunkered down until 3 a.m."

Farrell's car, parked along Lybecker Road, could not be moved because it was part of the crime scene. She and her friends tried hailing cabs or rides to get home, but couldn't find transportation, so they spent the night in Pullman. After being awake all night, the Moscow teenagers were relieved to be headed back home.

"I've never even seen a gun fired," Farrell said. "This is something we never expected. I literally thought they were lying at first when they told us it was gunshots. I was in shock. People were scared for their lives."

More information about the shootings will be released as it becomes available, Opgenorth said. Police are asking anyone who may have knowledge about the shooting to call (509) 334-0802.

Sandaine may be contacted at kerris@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.

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