The shooting suspect who allegedly killed one person and injured another Saturday morning in Pullman told police at the scene he acted in self-defense, according to court documents.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by the Pullman Police Department, the officers who responded to the sound of gunshots early Saturday morning in the area of Lybecker Road found shooting victim Liban Barre, 23, lying on the ground. They also found the gun belonging to the alleged shooter, George Melvin Harris III.
Police also found the other shooting victim, 22-year-old Brandon Gray, between two cars in a parking lot on Lybecker Road. Police rendered aid to Gray and Barre until medics arrived. Barre later died at Pullman Regional Hospital and Gray is in serious but stable condition at a Spokane hospital.
Harris III was charged with second-degree assault. He made his preliminary appearance Monday in Whitman County Superior Court.
He is being held on a $10,000 cash bond. Harris has no previous criminal history, according to Chief Deputy Prosecutor Dan LeBeau. During the hearing, LeBeau revealed that Barre was living with Harris III as a roommate.
If the prosecutor’s office files charges this week, Harris III will appear in court again on Friday.
The affidavit says that soon after the shooting, an officer spoke to Harris III, who was found standing next to Barre’s body. Harris III allegedly told police the Glock 19 they found belonged to him. Harris III was bleeding from lacerations on his head.
Harris III allegedly told the officer that he was “jumped” and pulled out his concealed gun and began shooting. Harris III said “they shot back,” but the officer could not determine who “they” were, the affidavit said.
Pullman Police Cmndr. Jake Opgenorth said police were investigating a “chaotic scene” and did not yet have enough evidence to arrest Harris III while he was still there.
Harris went to the Pullman Police lobby at 6:46 a.m. and told the front desk that he was there to “turn himself in.”
The incident happened close to the Washington State University campus near a party where approximately 200 people were gathered. Gray is a receiver on the WSU football team.
Students and visitors at the party on Saturday described the moments after the shooting. Some jumped out of windows and fled the area on foot after hearing the gunshots.
“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.”
On Saturday, WSU released a statement about the incident.
“Our thoughts are with the students, families, and friends impacted by the tragic act of violence that took place early Saturday morning in Pullman,” the statement said. “We recognize the toll this is taking on our community and we want our students and employees to know resources are available.”
It went on to list several WSU and community resources, including Cougar Health Services, the Dean of Students and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun released a statement Saturday saying his department is aware of the incident involving Gray, but cannot comment further because of the open police investigation.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Brandon and his family and friends,” Chun stated.
The university’s student government, Associated Students of WSU, released a statement on Monday saying it is “extremely saddened following the tragic events that occured within our community.”
ASWSU President Brian Patrick said the tragedy was compounded by news that a University of Utah football player was shot and killed early Sunday in Salt Lake City in a similar incident. WSU’s football team played Utah on Saturday in Salt Lake City.
“It’s super unfortunate that these people who are … they’re young and still have so much life left, they’re just gone way too soon in incidents that probably could have been avoided,” he said.
Patrick said one of his professors postponed an assignment that was supposed to be due Monday out of respect for students who may be affected by the tragedy.
“I feel like a lot of professors and faculty have been very understanding that students are dealing with a lot,” he said.