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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:40 a.m., Friday, May 18, 2001

Ex-Hawai'i man shoots Pacific Lutheran professor, self

Associated Press

PARKLAND, Wash. — A college professor was shot to death on campus by a former Hawai'i man who then committed suicide, leaving a note behind saying he chose his victim at random, authorities said.

The gunman died of his injuries about seven hours after the shooting yesterday afternoon.

James D. Holloway, an assistant music professor, was shot to death on a walkway outside a dormitory at Pacific Lutheran University.

Authorities identified the shooter as 55-year-old Donald Cowan and said his last known address was in nearby Tacoma. He had no affiliation with the school, university spokesman Greg Brewis said. Cowan lived in Hawai'i until 1995.

Cowan apparently didn't know Holloway, but was angry with a female employee of the university, Pierce County Sheriff's Lt. Dave Hall said.

Hall said the gunman shot Holloway four times with a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol, placed a note by his body and then shot himself. Authorities also found a .22-caliber handgun with 50 rounds and two loaded magazines for the pistol.

The 16-page, handwritten note said the gunman intended to kill an innocent person, Hall said.

The note "explains the bizarre reasoning the suspect had for committing a random murder," Hall said. "He was frighteningly clear in his intent."

The female employee was out of the country at the time, Hall said. He said the woman had sought at least one restraining order against the gunman, but no protection order was in effect at the time of the shooting.

Cowan's only criminal record in the county was a charge of violating an anti-harassment order in 1995, Hall said.

Pacific Lutheran is a private, four-year university with 3,500 students and is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Holloway, 40, was the university's organist and had developed a large music program connected with churches in the Northwest.

"He had no problem confessing the Lord as his savior and reminding us what we were singing for," said Andrea Pfeiffer, 19, a sophomore who sang in the choir.

Freshman Nate Alvstad, 19, said he was playing tennis when he heard four rapid gunshots, though he didn't at first realize what the sounds were.

"It could have been any one of us," said Christopher Hord, who works at campus radio station KPLU.

University officials and sheriff's officers briefed students about the shooting at a campus auditorium. By early evening, a wooden cross, flowers and half a dozen candles filled the corner where the shooting took place. Today is the last day of classes before final exams.