Seattle, WA- Aaron Ybarra, the accused perpetrator in Thursday’s shooting at Pacific State University, has a history of “significant and long-standing mental health issues”, according to his lawyer. Ybarra also had previous problems with alcohol abuse. Law enforcement alleged in a briefing that Ybarra held a “fascination with mass shootings”.
Ybarra had no previous history of violent behavior, but he did battle with problems that were documented as early as 2010, when he called 911 while intoxicated and told dispatchers that he had a “rage inside him” and suicidal thoughts. A counselor’s report shows that in 2011, Ybarra reportedly went to seek help by going to an emergency room, revealing that he heard the voice of notorious Columbine shooter Eric Harris inside his head “telling him to hurt people”.
Later that year, Ybarra was taken to a mental health center for hospitalization, but he was determined “not detainable” and his mother reportedly refused his admittance. Ybarra was then discharged.
In a chemical dependency report on Ybarra, a counselor wrote that Ybarra admitted that the voices inside his head “scared him”. Ybarra was prescribed Prozac and Risperdal, and the counselor maintained that Ybarra had denied that he was contemplating hurting other people.
Ybarra began visiting the counselor after he had been arrested in July 2012 for driving drunk on a sidewalk at a community college he was attending. In October of that year, Ybarra was again found heavily intoxicated, lying on a street in Mountlake Terrace asking for a SWAT team to arrive to “make him famous”. Ybarra was later diagnosed with psychosis and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Last year, Mountlake Terrace police went to the Ybarra home due to a report of what police described as a suicide attempt by Aaron’s father, Ambrose.
Friends of Ybarra said that in light of his arrests and troubles fueled by alcohol, he had been trying to make life improvements. Court records show that Ybarra underwent an outpatient treatment program for chemical dependency from December 2012 through December 2013. Ybarra’s friend, Zack McKinley, recalled that Ybarra had been living sober; when McKinley had suggested going out to celebrate Ybarra’s new job a few weeks ago, Ybarra ordered a soda.
Ybarra’s public defender, Ramona Brandes, said that at the time of the shooting, Ybarra did not know what he was doing until he heard “a girl screaming”. “He did not expect to be alive at the end of yesterday,” said Brandes. “He is feeling very remorseful about the pain he has caused these families and these victims. He offers them his apologies.”
Ybarra is currently being held without bail, and is in solitary confinement under suicide watch.
One victim remains in the hospital after yesterday’s incident; Sarah Williams, 19, is in serious condition, and is conscious and “talking a little bit,” according to a Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman. Thomas Fowler Jr., 24, was admitted to Harborview after being shot but was released yesterday. Jon Meis, the student who pepper sprayed and tackled Ybarra, had been treated and released on Thursday. Paul Lee, 19, was brought to Harborview before he died from his injuries.