- (Photo: Reuters/David Ryder)
A student from Seattle Pacific University is being hailed a hero after he tackled the suspected gunman behind yesterday's shooting spree that injured three and killed one at the northwestern Christian college.
Jon Meis, a 22-year-old engineering major at Seattle Pacific University, reportedly tackled suspected shooter Aaron Ybarra, 26, as he entered the campus's Otto Miller Hall carrying a shotgun and a knife at around 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Meis, who served as a volunteer building monitor in Otto Hall, was sitting behind a desk in the building's lobby when the suspect entered. As Ybarra allegedly stopped to reload his gun, Meis sprayed the suspect with pepper spray and tackled Ybarra, pinning him to the floor. More students and faculty then rushed to Meis' aid and held the gunman until moments later, when police arrived.
Although Meis and his family have remained quiet about Thursday's events, friends and eye witnesses of the shooting have described Meis as a "hero" whose efforts ended what could have been a far larger tragedy at Seattle Pacific University.
SPU President Daniel J. Martin said at a press conference that Meis "saved lives" with his selfless actions, while Twitter also exploded with praise from Meis' friends and roommates.
"I'm proud of the selfless actions that my roommate, Jon Meis, showed today taking down the shooter," SPU student Matt Garcia tweeted on Thursday. "He is a hero."
Andrew Van Ness, who claims to be Meis' roommate for the past four years, told CNN in an email that he wasn't surprised to learn that his friend had been the hero of the day. "I wasn't surprised to see he was the hero – his resourcefulness, love for others and knowledge of the greater good are what defines him, in my mind," the student said.
Family friend Melissa Engstrom added to The Seattle Times that Meis is defined by his deep Christian faith and his close-knit family. Engstrom added that she thinks Meis' faith in Jesus Christ and his willingness to sacrifice himself for others are the main reasons behind his heroic actions.
"He is very quiet, very devoted to his family," the friend said. "He had a lot to lose. He is getting married this summer."
But Meis' actions did not completely prevent tragedy on Thursday afternoon, as suspect Ybarra allegedly injured three and killed one when he went on a shooting spree at Seattle Pacific University. Ybarra was not a student at the private Christian university that he attacked, and police are still searching for answers as to why Ybarra targeted the school, located about 12 miles from his home.
The suspect has been booked at the King County jail on homicide charges. In the past, he has twice been involuntarily admitted to mental institutions following incidences.