Jon Meis, the Seattle Pacific University senior credited with thwarting a gunman’s plan for mass murder last week, said in a statement issued through the school he was only able to walk away unharmed through God’s grace.
Meis described the shooter, Aaron Ybarra, as a “sad and troubled young man,” and said he hoped he would find God’s forgiveness one day.
Meis was working as a building monitor when Aaron Ybarra entered Otto Miller Hall on Thursday afternoon. Ybarra opened fire with a shotgun, hitting several students. When he paused to reload his weapon, Meis doused Ybarra in pepper spray and then restrained him until police arrived.
Police say Ybarra had at least 50 additional shotgun rounds and told investigators he planned to kill as many people as possible, and then himself.
Before Meis stopped him, Ybarra killed Paul Lee, 19, and critically injured Sarah Williams, 20. Another student was treated and released from the hospital with minor injuries.
Ybarra is being held without bail and has been on suicide watch at King County Jail. His lawyer claims he has a long history of mental problems.
During the last few days, friends and strangers have rallied an outpouring of support for Meis and the other victims.
Meis is engaged to be married, and people quickly bought everything on the couple’s registries at Target and Crate and Barrel. Once the registries were completed, Seattle resident Jessamyn McIntyre started a crowdfunding campaign for Meis’ honeymoon and future expenses. It raised more than $50,000 in three days.
A fundraising page to cover the cost of Lee’s funeral and Williams’ medical care is nearing $13,000. Another page started by Williams’ family had raised nearly $5,000. More donations are expected.
Meis has requested privacy and is not speaking to the media. In his statement, he described himself as a private person and said being called a hero in the wake of such a tragic event has been “hard to accept.” He expressed his sympathies to those who were closest to the victims and asked the community to pray for them.
“I am overwhelmed with the incredible generosity that has been showered upon me,” he wrote. “It has been deeply touching to read the comments online and realize that my actions have had such a strikingly widespread effect.”
He requested all future donations be made to victims through SPU. Following his request, McIntyre closed donations for the crowdfunding site and redirected visitors to the SPU website.
“In these next few days, weeks, and months, please continue to pray for everyone in the Seattle Pacific community,” Meis concluded. “We serve a truly awesome God and I firmly believe that it is through Him alone that we will find the strength to heal from this tragedy.”
Williams remains hospitalized, but is out of intensive care, according to her aunt, Diane Williams. “We’ve got a long ways to go,” she said.
Meis’ brother Chaz spoke at their church on Sunday, also asking for prayer and crediting God for his brother’s courage.
“Being in a place of faith, being in a place where we know the Lord Jesus Christ has laid down his life for us in the way that my brother and other students were willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the safety of this community, we know we have hope and we have joy,” he said in a recording made by KiroTV.