“The shooter turned toward me, pointed the gun at me and fired,” Sarah Williams testified Wednesday during the murder and assault trial of Aaron Ybarra.
Even after being hit with a shotgun blast, Sarah Williams said that it took a few moments to fully comprehend that she had been wounded during a gunman’s rampage at Seattle Pacific University.
Williams, 22, took the stand Wednesday in the trial of Aaron Ybarra, the Mountlake Terrace man accused of killing one student and wounding two others at the university on June 5, 2014.
Ybarra is charged with premeditated first-degree murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of second-degree assault. The 29-year-old has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorney contends Ybarra is mentally ill and couldn’t discern between right and wrong at the time of the shootings.
Paul Lee, 19, was fatally shot in the head and a second student, Thomas Fowler, was hit by pellets in his neck and chest outside Otto Miller Hall before Ybarra entered the building and shot Williams, the jury has heard.
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Williams told jurors that she’d finished a math test early and left class, descending a staircase in Otto Miller Hall. Midway down the stairs, she saw “a man pointing a gun at a boy sitting at the table.”
Confused about what she was seeing, Williams got to the bottom of the stairs and froze.
“The shooter turned toward me, pointed the gun at me and fired,” she said. “It felt really hot and kind of like a surge of energy pushing the body backward.”
Williams said she was still confused, then realized her shirt was wet and she couldn’t move her right arm. She backed up to stand behind the stairs until another student, Hannah Judd, tried to get her down a hallway.
“I was still kind of panicked. I was having trouble breathing and I was in a lot of pain,” she testified.
Judd called Williams’ mother in Phoenix and told her that her daughter had been shot, then passed the phone to Williams.
“I kind of just told my mom I was fine and that I loved her,” she said. “I remember police officers or SWAT people coming down the hallway and jumping over me.”
She said a medic worked with Judd to apply pressure to her wounds and then carry her out to an ambulance.
She awoke at Harborview Medical Center and learned she’d been shot on the right side of her chest. An artery in her shoulder was hit, which is why there was so much blood, and pellets collapsed her right lung, Williams testified.
She affirmed that she didn’t want to discuss what she’s gone through to recover from her injuries and was excused after only 18 minutes on the witness stand.
The shooting ended when Ybarra was subdued and disarmed by student safety monitor Jon Meis, who testified Tuesday.