One Goh a child killer
On April 2 last year, a 43-year-old former nursing student named One L. Goh walked into Oikos University in Oakland, Calif., with a .45-caliber handgun. He killed six people and wounded three others, then exited the building and shot and killed Tshering Bhutia, a former classmate, in the school’s parking lot. Goh then climbed into Bhutia’s car and drove to a Safeway in the nearby city of Alameda, where he ultimately surrendered to police.
Five days later, I went to see Goh at the Santa Rita jail in Dublin, Calif., 25 miles south of Oakland. The visitation area consists of a series of stalls equipped with a phone on either side of a glass partition. The prisoners take their spots before the doors open, so if you stand by one of the hallway windows, you can see rows of men waiting for their visitors. At a far window, an elderly Vietnamese woman waved fondly at her son. On a wooden bench near the check-in desk, two older men talked about how the word “correctional” meant that the prisoners were supposed to come out as better people. A young woman held an infant up to the window and cooed, “Say hello to Daddy.” Two days after the shooting, I sent Goh a letter written in Korean explaining who I was and that I would be there on Saturday. Now as I waited, I routinely stood up to peek into those windows to see if he had shown up. He wasn’t there.
A buzzer went off, and the heavy door to the visitation area swung open. I walked in with the other visitors, checking each stall, until I saw a dumpy Korean man with thick eyebrows and heavy jowls. He watched as I sat at his booth, but his face registered nothing. He stared ahead with dark, small eyes and waited for me to settle in my seat. When I reached for the receiver on my side of the glass, he picked up his end. I asked if he was One Goh. He said yes.
During the conversation that ensued, Goh repeatedly rubbed his face with the heel of his palm. On a couple of occasions, he appeared to be on the verge of tears. He said he had come down to the visitation area because he was expecting to see his father. He asked who I was. I told him — truthfully, though it was more complicated than this — that I was planning to write a book about school shootings and wanted to ask him about his life. In his measured, raspy voice, Goh said, “I have not seen my father since — ” before trailing off into something inaudible. He said his lawyer had instructed him to not talk to anyone about the case. I asked him if he was sure. Goh nodded but didn’t make a move to hang up the phone.
Then he began to talk. Early police reports never specified what happened after the shooting, when Goh went to the Safeway near the school, though there was agreement that he walked inside and asked to used the phone at the customer-service desk. I asked whom he called, and Goh said: “I called my father and told him that I had shot a lot of people. He told me to turn myself in. I went outside to try to wave at a police officer, but he didn’t turn around, so I walked back inside and talked to the security guard.”
After a pause, he said, “I know my father loves me, he just shows it in a different way.” When I asked him to describe his father, Goh asked me about my nationality. I told him I was also Korean. He said, “You know, my father is a pretty typical Korean guy.” I told him I knew what that meant. There’s a shorthand among Korean immigrants, and as I sat across from One Goh, I tried not to think about the ease with which we had connected.
2.) How would you summarize the article?
3.) In your words how do you think One Goh feels about killing the 6 people?
4.) What do you think the last sentence suggests?
5.) List two reasons why you think One Goh called his father after killing the people?
6.) Why do you think the author included that Goh looked like he was on the verge of tears?