UW staffer killed by stalker
The woman shot dead on the campus of the University of Washington this morning had a protection order against the man who shot her and then...
The woman shot dead on the campus of the University of Washington this morning had a protection order against the man who shot her and then himself in what police are saying was an apparent murder-suicide.
At about 9:30 a.m., police received reports of six shots fired, said Ray Wittmier, assistant chief of the University of Washington Police.
When police arrived at the fourth-floor office in Gould Hall, they found two people dead: a woman, identified by family members as Rebecca Jane Griego, and Jonathan Rowan. A six-shot revolver was found in the office.
Witnesses said Griego, a 26-year-old program coordinator in the Department of Urban Design & Planning, had taken out a domestic-violence protection order against Rowan, 41, in King County Superior Court on March 6.
While not immediately revealing the motive for the killing, police said they were not looking for any other suspects.
A witness saw the man fumbling with something in a bag before he entered the woman's office.
Wittmier said Rowan made telephone threats to woman at her campus office on March 7 and March 14. Officers were told about this, but she was not placed under surveillance or escort.
Griego did not want to press charges at the time, but if she had, police might have been able to arrest Rowan for violating a protection order, Wittmier said.
In the protection-order documents, Griego said Rowan threatened to always be in contact with her.
In January this year, she came home and he was drunk, according to court documents. The two were living together at the time. Griego said Rowan threw candlestick holders at her, tackled her to the floor and punched her.
"I forgave him because he was drunk, but now I see that he was wrong and he threatened to hurt me again," she said according to the court papers.
Griego said that in February, Rowan called her and threatened suicide because he couldn't see her.
In early March, she said in the court papers that "I cannot find him, but he can find me and knows my place of work."
Co-workers said Griego had taken steps to avoid Rowan, who called the office so much she would no longer answer the phone. He then left messages including threats to kill her, one co-worker said.
Authorities had been unable to serve the protection order because they couldn't find him. The paperwork was left at Griego's office in case he showed up there.
Griego described Rowan as a former boyfriend — "a psycho from the past," said Lance Nguyen, who worked in the office.
She was so frightened he might attack her that she moved a couple of times, changed her home phone number and worked from home for a month so he couldn't find her at work, Nguyen said.
Nguyen said he was in the building at the time of the shooting, in a first-floor class. He heard the shots but didn't realize it was gunfire at first. When he heard someone had been killed, he said, "I pretty much knew right away. I feel terrible."
Marika Vanderlinden, Griego's landlady, said Griego had just moved into a basement apartment in Vanderlinden's home last month.
"We're very shocked," Vanderlinden said of the shooting. "She was very sweet, nice and considerate."
Vanderlinden, who said she was aware of the protection order, said that the suspect didn't know where Griego was living.
"She made it sound like she was dealing with it," Vanderlinden said. "We talked with her about it and told her if there were any problems, we would be there to help her out."
Meghan Pinch, a graduate student in the Urban Planning department, had heard that Griego had been having relationship troubles. But, she said, Griego always maintained a smile and cheerful demeanor.
"She didn't have a mean bone in her body," Pinch said. "She had a lot of friends, she was well-liked."
Griego helped students understand the technical details of mortgages and finance in real-estate courses, Pinch said. She said Griego would sometimes be a guest lecturer.
The shooting occurred during spring quarter classes, and some students in the building were locked into their classrooms after the shootings.
Monica Le, a junior at the UW, was in a fourth floor classroom when she heard the shots. She said no one was sure it was gunfire at first since loud noises sometimes come from a wood shop in the building. Her class continued for a few minutes until police arrived and told everyone to leave.
Assistant Police Chief Wittmier said that the UW has 65,000 total students, faculty and staff on campus and about 200 buildings with only four or five officers on patrol on a given weekday.
He also said police receive numerous reports of death threats on campus. With a number of students are moving in and out of relationships, it can be very emotional, so such threats and emotional situations are not uncommon.
There have only been a handful of shootings on the campus:
On June 28, 2000, UW pathologist Rodger Haggitt, 57, was shot in his office by medical resident Jian Chen, 42, who turned the gun on himself. Chen was on the verge of flunking UW's pathology program.
In July, 1989, a California man, Azizolla Mazooni, shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, Marjan Mohseninia, and her friend, Abraham Sharif-Kashani, in a UW parking lot. Mazooni had hired a private detective to locate Mohseninia, who was a summer student at the university. Mazooni was later convicted on two counts of second-degree murder.
In December, 1979, Roger Cutsinger, 21, fatally shot his roommate and lover, Larry Duerkson, for a $500,000 insurance policy in which Cutsinger was named beneficiary. Duerkson, a University of Washington library employee, was walking between Parrington Hall and the Henry Art Gallery when Cutsinger shot him. Cutsinger was later convicted of first-degree murder.
Seattle Times staff reporters Nick Perry, Jonathan Martin, Mike Lindblom, Jim Brunner Susan Gilmore, Jennifer Sullivan, Alex Fryer, Natalie Singer and news researchers Miyoko Wolf and Gene Balk contributed to this report.