SEATTLE — The building monitor that is being hailed a hero after disarming a gunman who opened fire on students at a Christian university is crediting God’s grace for saving the lives of countless others who could have been killed or injured.
As previously reported, Jon Meis, 22, quickly disarmed Aaron Ybarra, 26, after he walked into the Otto Miller Building on the campus of Seattle Pacific University and began to gun down students last week. Yabarra is not a student at the university, and a motive is not yet known.
According to a statement by police, Meis pepper-sprayed and tackled Ybarra as he began reloading, and other students held him until police arrived.
“The suspect fired several rounds from a shotgun and began reloading his weapon when a student building monitor heroically intervened. The monitor, a man in his 20s, pepper sprayed the suspect before tackling him to the ground,” the report outlined. “Several bystanders also seized upon the suspect—who was also carrying a knife and additional ammunition—and took his gun.”
Police state that Meis saved many students’ lives by his quick actions, considering that police found a significant amount of ammunition on Ybarra.
“He was hellbent on killing a lot of people today,” one unidentified law enforcement official told the Seattle Times.
One student died and three others were injured in the attack.
While Meis is being praised for his quick thinking and bravery, the building monitor is taking the commendation that he has received with humility.
“I know that I am being hailed as a hero, and as many people have suggested, I find this hard to accept,” he wrote in a statement on Thursday. “I am indeed a quiet and private individual; while I have imagined what it would be like to save a life, I never believed I would be put in such a situation. … It has been deeply touching to read the comments online and realize that my actions have had such a strikingly widespread effect.”
“I was thrown into a life and death situation, and through God’s grace I was able to stop the attacker and walk away unharmed,” Meis said. “As I try to return to a normal life in the aftermath of this horrible event, I pray above all things for strength for the victims and their families. While my experience left me in physical shock, I know that many people are dealing with much greater grief than I have experienced, and in honesty I probably would not be able to handle myself right now if I had personally known the victims.”
He admitted that he struggled with forgiving Ybarra, but asked others to not return evil for evil.
“I would encourage that hate be met with love,” Meis stated. “When I came face to face with the attacker, God gave me the eyes to see that he was not a faceless monster, but a very sad and troubled young man. While I cannot at this time find it within me to forgive his crime, I truly desire that he will find the grace of God and the forgiveness of our community.”
Ybarra reportedly has a history of mental problems and is on suicide watch in jail.