Seattle Pacific 'hero' pepper-sprayed, tackled gunman


by Associated Press and KING 5 News

Posted on June 6, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 7 at 2:21 PM

SEATTLE  - The man blasting away with a shotgun paused to reload, and Jon Meis saw his chance.

The 22-year-old building monitor pepper-sprayed and tackled the gunman Thursday afternoon in Seattle Pacific University’s Otto Miller Hall, likely preventing further carnage, according to police and university officials.

Meis and other students subdued him until officers arrived and handcuffed him moments later.

Police said the shooter, who killed a 19-year-old man and wounded two other young people, had additional rounds and a knife.

Police investigators say they were even more in awe of Meis's selfless action after watching security camera video of the shootings. A police source who saw the video calls Meis's response an "amazing act of heroism."  Meis jumps up from his desk in the hall, pepper sprays the gunman and takes him down while another student jumps in to help. The gunman pulls out a knife and tries to kill himself, says the police source, but the men disarm him and kick the knife away.

”I’m proud of the selfless actions that my roommate, Jon Meis, showed today taking down the shooter,” fellow student Matt Garcia wrote on Twitter. “He is a hero.”

Meis, a dean’s list electrical engineering student, was emotionally anguished but not injured in the shooting, Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg said Friday. He was treated and released from the hospital.

The leafy campus of the small, private, Christian university about 10 minutes north of downtown Seattle was quiet the morning after the shooting, with a service planned at midday. Flowers and candles were laid on the street near Otto Miller Hall, which was taped off as a crime scene. People stopped by the makeshift memorial to pay their respects, and some students milled about or prayed in groups.

The suspect, Aaron R. Ybarra, 26. was booked into the King County Jail late Thursday for investigation of homicide and made his first court appearance Friday afternoon.

Meis kept a low profile the day after the shooting. An outgoing voice message at a phone listing for his parents’ home in Renton said, “We ask that you please respect our privacy during this time while we recover.” It solicited prayers for students and the family of the man killed.

All requests for on-camera interviews were being turned down, but one woman in the home's driveway told KING 5: "We really appreciate the support and prayers from the community and continue to ask for prayers for the person who lost his life."

At Meis's high school alma matter, Seattle Christian, officials also declined interviews at the family's request.

In an email to the AP, Garcia declined to comment Friday out of respect for his roommate’s privacy.

Another roommate, Ryan Salgado, on Thursday gave The Seattle Times a detailed account of what happened, as relayed to him by Meis. Salgado said Meis seemed to be in shock afterward.

Meis typically carries pepper spray with him wherever he goes, because he likes to be prepared, Salgado said.

”There are a number of heroes in this,” Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said Thursday. “The people around (the gunman) stepped up.”

He added: “But for the great response by the people of Seattle Pacific, this incident might have been much more tragic.”

According to KIRO Radio, people have been thanking Meis, who is engaged to be married, with gifts on his wedding registry.


KING 5's Chris Ingalls contributed to this report.