On June 5, 2014, one person was killed and two people were wounded when a 26-year-old gunman opened fire on the Seattle Pacific University campus, and inside Otto Miller Hall.
On Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 21 campus surveillance videos of the incident were released by the King County Prosecutor’s Office. KIRO 7, along with several other media companies, appealed to the courts for access to the videos. Both the trial and the appellate courts sided with the reporters’ request under public record laws.
KIRO 7 is only posting a portion of the video in the context of our news broadcasts. We are not posting or airing all of the raw footage.
In the 2014 SPU incident, Aaron Ybarra admitted to detectives he opened fire in what was meant to be a murder-suicide.
Ybarra is charged with killing student Paul Lee and injuring three others, including Jon Meis, who was working security that day. Meis used pepper spray to subdue Ybarra when the suspect had problems with his weapon.
During a 2014 interview with police, Ybarra repeatedly rubbed the pepper spray Meis deployed out of his eyes.
“I had to give that security guy props,” Ybarra told police. “He was pretty brave.”
In a 2014 interview with police while being treated at Harboview Medical Center, Meis described how he grabbed the weapon from Ybarra while the suspect tried to reload.
“I could see he was fumbling so I took my pepper spray gun … sprayed him in the face with it.”
One of the recently released videos shows everything Jon Meis did. We broadcast that video on KIRO 7 while Jesus Villahermosa, an active shooter training expert, provided context.
Villahermosa believes Meis’s actions are a good example of how a bystander can prevent further bloodshed. Sharing the video could enhance public safety.
Seattle Pacific University President Dan Martin said in a statement he is disappointed with the videos release and recommended that students and faculty not watch them.
“I would ask that you reach out to your classmates and friends to offer support and comfort should they need it,” Martin said in a message to students and faculty, alerting them to the video release.
Faces of the victims are blurred in the videos that was released through public disclosure.
Video of the incident and the police response “would have remained illegally hidden if not for local media willing to fight for the First Amendment,” KIRO 7 News Director Jake Milstein said.
“KIRO 7, owned by Cox Media Group, KING 5, owned by TEGNA, and seattlepi.com, owned by Hearst, were joined by the Seattle Times in fighting to the state Court of Appeals for the public’s right to know in this case.
“Courts, police, and prosecutors are all paid using public tax dollars. The documents and video they use to investigate and prosecute crimes should be a matter of public record.
“At a time when some are trying to limit freedom of the press, I’m pleased the courts upheld and defended the right to know and the First Amendment in this case. The public should know that KIRO 7 will continue to fight for open records, government accountability, and a free press.”
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