Seattle Pacific University freshman and 2013 MTHS graduate Elbethel Kelemu was an eyewitness to the Thursday afternoon shootings outside SPU’s Otto Miller Hall.
Kelemu was with her friends when she witnessed the suspect shoot the 19-year-old man who later died at Harborview Medical Center.
“All of a sudden a student who was walking out of the building to the parking lot (he was less than a mile away from us) [was] shot by this male with a rifle,” Kelemu said.
“At first, we thought it was a prank or some sort of a theatrical joke. But then, we noticed that the victim was shot through the head and a pool of blood was just everywhere.”
“…[The shooter] had to reload [his gun] and since he has a rifle, it takes a longer time than a shot gun to reload,” she added. “This was when we all ran for our lives. I was the last to run because I was in so much shock that I just stood there. When he looked at, me that is when I realized I have no other option,” she said.
While running to escape, Kelemu and her friends helped a woman and her children flee to safety.
They hid in the trees and when they heard sirens blaring, Kelemu returned to the outside of Otto Miller Hall. She said she saw an injured man who told Kelemu his friend was inside the building where the shooter had entered. Kelemu said she made a cell phone call to the woman, who answered in a whisper, noting “the shooter is outside of our door. If he gets into this lab, he’ll kill all 20 of us.”
“I told her to make sure that the lab is locked down,” Kelemu said. “She responded… ‘We are literally blocking the door with chairs and our arms.’ Then she hung up.”
After police emerged from the building with the suspect in handcuffs, Kelemu said she met the woman with whom she had spoken on the phone.
“…I realized that that kid who died in front of me was standing exactly where I was literally two seconds ago. So, I felt guilt, like I was responsible for his death. He was just like me, about 19, trying to get a degree and live the American dream. Getting ready for finals just like me. It’s like you never know when things will change in a matter of seconds,” Kelemu said.
The Hawkeye will have more Friday from an exclusive interview with Kelemu.
— By Nick Fiorillo/MTHS Hawkeye