A tearful Oikos University official spoke of hope to the several hundreds gathered Tuesday to mourn the seven people killed at a small Christian school in one of the nation's deadliest shootings in years.
"In unbearable tragedy, only God can create something good," Oikos vice president Dr. Woo Nam Soo said during Tuesday night's prayer vigil at Allen Temple Baptist Church in East Oakland.
Soo, who was joined by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and other civic and religious leaders, told a crowd of mostly young people from Oakland's sizeable Korean community that while some tragedies cannot be understood, this "Holy Week" is an opportunity to "consider the suffering of Jesus Christ...and find resurrection hope."
Friends and family filled the pews for the two-hour service as details continue to emerge of the one man and six women gunned down by a former nursing student on Monday at the little-known Oakland university.
Nate Tsegay came to mourn the loss of Grace Kim of Union City, a 23-year-old nursing student at Oikos that he grew up with and saw two days ago. He described Kim as "the life of everything we did" and a "sister to everyone." She was excited about an upcoming trip to Hawaii, he said, and planned to attend his church on Easter.
"It's not really real yet - there's still a sense of shock," said Tsegay, 32, who sat with two rows of Kim's friends that often got together to play poker.
The gunman, One Goh, 43, killed Kim and six others in the nation's deadliest shooting at a U.S. college since Virginia Tech in 2007. Goh told police he was upset over being teased by students and expelled from the school earlier this year.
He "did not seem remorseful at all" after taking a secretary hostage and spraying bullets at students after they refused to line up for him in a classroom, police Chief Howard Jordan said Tuesday.
After shooting some of his former classmates, Goh briefly went outside the building, then returned and "went through the entire building, systematically and randomly shooting the victims," Jordan said.
Goh then allegedly stole a Honda Accord belonging to a victim and drove to an Alameda grocery store where he told employees at the customer service desk, "I just shot some people." Jordan said he also called his father telling him what he had done. Police arrested Goh an hour and a half after the shooting.
A South Korean native, Goh was expelled from Oikos in January for behavioral problems. Goh told police he was upset with administrators and several students who "made fun of his English-speaking skills." Reports say he was deeply in debt and had lost both his mother and his brother in the past year.
Goh appeared to have been planning the attack for several weeks. He entered the single-story building Monday morning looking for a particular female administrator who was not there, police said.
"It's very, very sad," Jordan said. "We have seven people who didn't deserve to die and three others wounded because someone who couldn't deal with the pressures of life."
At the vigil, Mayor Quan said that while the shooting victims - who came from Korea, Nigeria, Nepal, and the Phillipines - represent Oakland's diversity, the massacre represented the growing anger and senseless violence in the United States.
"America has to look into its soul," Quan said. "It cannot be that we can find more guns in our streets than we can find healthcare and mental health services. That cannot be. That's not our America."
After Quan spoke, an Allen Temple singer belted out the gospel hymn "His eye is on the sparrow," while Pastor Kyung Chan Kim, president of the Council of Korean Churches in Northern California, called on the Bay area's 150,000 Koreans and its 350 Korean churches to pray.
"This is a time of grief, sorrow and sadness, but also...a time of healing and a time of building up," Kim said. "We Korean pastors didn't know what to do, but we found hope tonight."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story first appeared on WORLD California.