Jon Meis: The Seattle Pacific University student who stopped the shooter

by: Gene Johnson and Phuong Le Updated:

Jon Meis, hero in the Seattle Pacific University shooting incident, tackled the suspect and used pepper spray to subdue him.

Quick Facts: 

  • Student student security volunteer called a hero for stopping gunman.
  • That student, Jon Meis, has asked for privacy.
  • Supporters buying gifts off that student's public wedding registry.
  • Police: "There are a number of heroes in this."

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.

"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."

Anonymous people also were taking actions to support Meis.

His wedding is planned for June 21 and supporters were making purchases on his registries at Target and Crate & Barrel. The registry pages were being passed around Twitter and Facebook, even shared by Seattle news organizations.

By 11:45 a.m. Friday, all but one item on their Crate & Barrel registry were fulfilled. Click here to contribute to the Target registry.

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 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.

Few details had emerged about the man arrested in the shooting, Aaron R. Ybarra, 26. He was booked into the King County Jail late Thursday for investigation of homicide, according to police and the jail roster, and he was scheduled to make an initial appearance in a jail courtroom Friday afternoon.

"We just hope he's safe," the suspect's father, Ambrose Ybarra, told The Seattle Times on Thursday. "It's upsetting to have these accusations thrown around. We're in emergency mode. We are trying to stay calm."

Phone messages left by The Associated Press for Ybarra's family were not immediately returned. Ybarra is not a student at the school, police said.

Investigators searched a house in the north Seattle suburb of Mountlake Terrace believed to be tied to Ybarra late Thursday.

The victims included a critically wounded 19-year-old woman who remained in intensive care Friday and a 24-year-old man in satisfactory condition, Gregg said. Their identities had not been released.

Meis kept a low profile the day after the shooting, asking friends not to speak with reporters.

"I am currently respecting Jon's privacy and I have no comment," Garcia wrote in an email to the AP.

But 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."

"Jon Meis is truly one of the greatest guys you will ever meet," fellow student Pete Clyde wrote to KIRO 7. "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."

McKinley said the attack was puzzling because Ybarra was happy to have just started a job bagging groceries. Ybarra could get emotionally low, but McKinley said he had a good group of friends and never saw him depressed.

Student Chris Howard was at Otto Miller Hall when the shooting happened. He said he saw the wounded woman on the floor. Her phone was covered in blood, but she asked those helping her to look through her phone for her mother, aunt and best friend.

"She was panicking," Howard said. "She said, 'I think I'm going to die.'"

Howard said he also saw the suspect pinned on the floor.

"The suspect was calm. Not speaking. Not moving. Not struggling. Just there," Howard said.

The shooting came a week before the end of the school year.

McDonagh said detectives are working as quickly as they can to figure out the gunman's motive or intended target. He said it appears the suspect acted alone.

On Thursday evening, an overflow crowd packed the First Free Methodist Church on campus for a service of prayers and song. The private Christian university cancelled classes Friday and planned to hold a service of "prayer, lament and worship" at noon.

"We're a community that relies on Jesus Christ for strength, and we'll need that at this point in time," said Daniel Martin, university president.

The violence follows a spate of recent shootings on or near college campuses.

Last month, Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured seven before turning his gun on himself in a rampage in Isla Vista, California, near two universities, according to police.


Associated Press writers Manuel Valdes, Donna Gordon Blankinship in Seattle and Rachel La Corte in Olympia contributed to this report. Information from KIRO 7 staff is also included in this report. Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.