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Family remembers victim from fatal Pullman shooting; WSU football player remains in hospital

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 27, 2021

When Liban Barre moved to Pullman a few weeks before his death, he planned to enroll at Washington State University. He wanted to serve in politics.

Barre, 23, was shot Saturday in Pullman and died from his injuries at Pullman Regional Hospital. Police had responded to a house party around midnight near College Hill and then heard gunshots nearby, according to the Pullman Police Department. Another student, WSU football wide receiver Brandon Gray, 22, was injured and transferred to a Spokane hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Mohamed Abdi, Barre’s cousin, said Barre surrounded himself with activists and always showed kindness to everyone he interacted with.

“He was more than a cousin to me, he was a brother,” Abdi said.

Between making short documentaries and organizing for peaceful protests, Abdi said he and his cousin devoted themselves to racial justice in their community of Kent.

“We were very proud of the small piece we did for our community and those causes,” Abdi said.

Barre moved to Pullman a few weeks ago with aspirations to become a politician, Abdi said. He developed a passion for public service through his involvement in the African Community Development Housing, Abdi said. He had turned 23 in June.

Abdi saw Barre last when his cousin visited Abdi for an event, he said. Abdi is running for a seat on the Tukwila City Council, and Barre traveled to support his cousin.

“He was excited to enroll for school, to be in Pullman. He looked healthy and content where he was at,” Abdi said. “I’m happy our last interaction was expressing the love we had for each other as brothers.”

The shooting left another injured. WSU football player Gray was transferred to a Spokane hospital Saturday, and officials said he was in “serious but stable” condition. An update on that condition was not immediately available Sunday.

In a statement, WSU Athletics Director Pat Chun said the department was aware of Gray’s condition but said school officials would not comment further on the open investigation.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Brandon and his family and friends,” the statement read.

Gray had not traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, to play in Saturday’s game against the University of Utah Utes. Hours after WSU’s loss to the Utes and almost a day after Gray was shot, Utes football player Aaron Lowe died after a shooting happened at 12:30 a.m. Sunday during a house party.

The investigation into Pullman’s shooting was ongoing as of Sunday afternoon, the Pullman Police Department said. Police arrested George M. Harris III, 23, on suspicion of assault for his involvement in the shooting.

In February 2019, Harris was allegedly involved in a fistfight with another student that resulted in the use of a Taser and pepper spray by Pullman police against both men.

Even for a small town, Pullman sees few deaths related to violent crime. Between 2010 and 2021, Pullman saw one homicide, according to Pullman PD’s annual report. The most recent incident was in 2015; Pullman resident Erik Luden was sentenced to 20 years in jail for allegedly killing his 58-year-old father Virgil “Cliff” Luden.

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