Jon Meis is a student and was working as a building monitor at Seattle Pacific University, but Thursday when a gunman began to rage through a hall on the Christian campus, Meis became a hero.
Meis, a 22-year-old engineering major, is credited by fellow students with tackling 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra, who was not a student, and hitting him with pepper spray while he was reloading a shotgun. Ybarra had already injured several victims, one of whom died. The Seattle Times specifically reported that Meis put the alleged gunman in a chokehold and held him on the ground until police arrived.
“Jon Meis is truly one of the greatest guys you will ever meet,” an unnamed classmate told KIRO-TV. “He was on the same dorm room floor as me and it makes perfect sense that he was the one to do this. He’s a fantastic engineer as well with an extremely creative mind! I remember seeing him working in that booth near the doors at Otto Miller thinking, ‘Man, he has an easy job.’ Little did we know what God would use him for today.”
Police said Ybarra had additional shotgun ammunition and a knife on him.
“But for the great response by the people of Seattle Pacific, this incident might have been much more tragic,” Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said.
Four people, including the young man who died, were rushed to Harborview Medical Center. A critically wounded 20-year-old woman was in intensive care late Thursday night after about five hours in surgery, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said. A 24-year-old man was hospitalized in satisfactory condition. A Seattle Fire Department official said the man suffered “pellet type wounds” to his neck and chest.
A 22-year-old man was treated and released, Gregg said. Police said he suffered minor injuries during the struggle with the suspect.
None of the victims were immediately identified.
Ybarra was taken into police custody.
“The suspect was calm. Not speaking. Not moving. Not struggling. Just there,” student Chris Howard, who was at Otto Miller Hall during the incident, said of Ybarra when police arrived.
Watch KIRO-TV’s report:
Zack McKinley, who told the Seattle Times he is a close friend of Ybarra, said the man’s actions made “no sense at all.”
“He’s super happy and friendly. He’s an awesome guy, someone who would never let you down,” McKinley said of the shooter, noting that he didn’t do drugs or drink alcohol and had also recently gotten a job bagging groceries, which they had celebrated a few weeks earlier.
Yet, KIRO-TV reported that police said the shooter had visited Columbine High School and allegedly expressed an interest in school shootings.
Ybarra’s father, Ambrose Ybarra, told the Times his family doesn’t know any specific details of the case and said, “I just need to put my arms around my family now. We just need to sit down and talk.” He added that the accusations are “unsettling.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.