A quick-thinking student saved the day during Thursday’s tragic shooting that left one person dead and three others injured. The deadly Thursday afternoon shooting spree on the Seattle Pacific University campus was still raging when Jon Meis, a student on patrol as a hall monitor, averted further bloodshed.
Meis used pepper spray to stun the gunman, identified by police as 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra, while the man was reloading his shotgun. Ybarra, who was not a Seattle Pacific University student, had already allegedly killed one person and wounded at least two others. Meis wrestled Ybarra to the ground after putting him in a choke hold, according to accounts from police and friends after the shooting. Other students and university staff helped restrain Ybarra until Seattle police arrived.
The Seattle campus was on lock-down following the shooting, which occurred inside a university hallway.
“It was super-terrifying,” said SPU sophomore Kharis Lund. “There were a lot of people crying and calling their parents.” According to his roommate, Ryan Salgado, even the heroic Jon Meis appeared to be in shock after the events of the day.
The Seattle police department booked Ybarra into King County Jail for investigation of murder. His motive wasn’t clear, but he was well-armed with extra shotgun shells and a knife, according to police.
“He was hellbent on killing a lot of people today,” a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation told the Seattle Times.
The suspect was described by friends as a normal guy who didn’t drink or do drugs. According to one friend, Ybarra was in an upbeat mood after being hired for a new job.
Zack McKinley, who said he was one of Ybarra’s closest friends, spoke about the suspect:
“It makes no sense at all. He’s super happy and friendly. He’s an awesome guy, someone who would never let you down. I’m really good at deciphering if someone’s got bad news or in trouble. I’m blown away by this. He called me yesterday and asked if I wanted to go fishing.”
One 19-year-old man was pronounced dead when he arrived at an area hospital, and another Seattle woman, 20 years old, was listed in critical condition. A 24-year-old man was listed in satisfactory condition after suffering pellet wounds to the neck and chest, and one additional person was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
One witness told CNN that she heard popping sounds, screaming, and saw students covered in blood after the shooting started.
“When I walked outside and saw someone down, that was disturbing seeing a bunch of bullets around,” said Seattle Pacific University Briana Clarke. “Seeing my friend outside being treated, that was hard to swallow.”
She added that she could have easily been one of the shooting victims.
Her fears were not unfounded. Police have said that more people could have been harmed in the shooting if those nearby hadn’t intervened.
“This story is not about an evil act but about the people that actually lived through this scenario and assisted each other when things were pretty tragic,” said Seattle’s Assistant Police Chief, Paul McDonagh.
Seattle Pacific University closed Otto Miller Hall, where students were shot, and cancelled classes on Friday. The university scheduled a Friday prayer service in memory of those killed and injured in this terrible tragedy.