The student credited for taking down the Seattle Pacific University shooter last week as he stopped to reload his shotgun issued an open letter to the public Monday, thanking God and reacting to being hailed as a hero in the public square.
“On Thursday, my life changed,” student Jon Meis wrote, according to KIRO-TV. “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. 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.”
Meis, who tackled the shooter as he paused to reload his weapon, reacted to being called a hero.
“I know that I am being hailed as a hero, and as many people have suggested I find this hard to accept,” he wrote. “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 touches me truly and deeply to read online that parents are telling their children about me and telling them that real heroes do exist,” Meis continued.
[sharequote align=”center”]”[W]hat I find most difficult … is the devastating reality that a hero cannot come without tragedy.”[/sharequote]
But he noted that there is one particular thing that troubles him about it.
“However, what I find most difficult about this situation is the devastating reality that a hero cannot come without tragedy,” Meiss wrote.
“In the midst of this attention, we cannot ignore that a life was taken from us, ruthlessly and without justification or cause. Others were badly injured, and many more will carry this event with them the rest of their lives,” he added. “Nonetheless, I would encourage that hate be met with love. 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.”
After the shooting, word got out that Meiss, who is engaged, was responsible for tackling the shooter. Individuals flocked to his wedding registry to pay for the listed items. Once everything was purchased, a crowd-funding campaign was started to cover the costs of his honeymoon.
“I am overwhelmed with the incredible generosity that has been showered upon me. It has been deeply touching to read the comments online and realize that my actions have had such a strikingly widespread effect,” Meiss wrote in his open letter. “Moving forward, I am strongly requesting that any future donations be given to the victims through Seattle Pacific University.”
“I am grateful for the prayers and support coming from our home city and afar,” he added. “In these next few days, weeks, and months, please continue to pray for everyone in the Seattle Pacific community. 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.”
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter