Victims of Calif. gunman were young, diverse

Published April 4, 2012 8:00AM (EDT)

Hundreds of people turned out for a memorial service Tuesday night, while family members and friends remembered the six students and one employee who were killed when a gunman opened fire at Christian-based Oikos University in Oakland, Calif. on Monday.

Three other people were wounded.

The Alameda County Coroners Bureau on Tuesday released the names of six of the seven victims. The name of the seventh victim was released by her father.

Family members have been speaking out about their loved ones, who ranged from 21 to 53 years old and came from Nigeria, Nepal and the Philippines, as well as the United States.


Katleen Ping, 24, identified as one of the victims by her father, was called the rock of her family.

The secretary/receptionist worked the front desk in the university's administration department, where the gunman took her hostage then killed her.

She had been working at the school for about seven months to support her family and her 4-year-old son Kayzzer. She had moved from the Philippines to Oakland with her family in 2007.

Ping shared a home with her parents, brother and two younger sisters. Her husband lives in the Philippines and had been trying to get permission to move to the United States.

Her father, Liberty Ping, said he does not think his daughter knew the person who shot her.

"She's with the Lord," he said. "She's in a better place right now."


Lydia Sim, 21, of Hayward, was described as a happy person who always had a smile on her face.

She babysat children at Hayward Baptist Church while attending nursing classes at the university. Daniel Sim said his sister was drawn to the school because of its predominant Korean-American student body, as well as its faith-based teachings.

"She felt a lot more comfortable," he said. "She was really outgoing and really independent."

He said his sister loved children, and children loved being around her.

She was studying for her nursing degree, but her ultimate goal was to attend medical school and become a pediatrician. She had attended Ohlone College in Fremont before transferring to Oikos and was nearing graduation.

Sim lived at home in Hayward with her parents and brother.


Friends said Bhutia Tshering, 38, of San Francisco, was a gentle Buddhist from the Indian state of Sikkim near the Himalayan Mountains. He worked nights as a janitor at San Francisco International Airport and lived alone in the city's North Beach neighborhood.

The Contra Costa Times reported he was killed when the gunman stole his car outside the university.

Prem Singh, his landlord at a residential hotel, said Bhutia attended nursing school classes at Oikos in the morning.


Sonam Choedon, 33, of El Cerrito, grew up in India as the child of Tibetan refugees. She worked in education administration for Tibet's exiled government before moving to the San Francisco Bay area city of El Cerrito from Dharamsala, India, a year and a half ago.

"Her death is really shocking to our community," said family spokesman Tenzin Tsedup, president of the Tibetan Association of Northern California, where Chodon was a member. "There are many horrific things happening in Tibet and now we have to face yet another tragedy in the U.S."

Chodon had worked for five years in the Education of Central Tibetan Administration in India, Tsedup said.

"She was a humble and loving person," he said. "She was a simple and very kind person."

Chodon was one of many new Tibetan immigrants who enrolled at Oikos to earn nursing degrees, Tsedup said.


The coroner's office also identified, Judith Seymore, 53 of San Jose, Kim Eunhea, 23, of Union City, and Doris Chibuko, 40, of San Leandro as victims of the shooting.

By Salon Staff

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