Jon Meis, the Seattle Pacific University student who heroically stopped alleged gunman Aaron Ybarra on June 6th, 2014, has had a SPU scholarship created in his honor. The gunman was pausing to reload his shotgun, having already wounded two and killed one person, when Meis tackled and pepper-sprayed him, preventing further carnage and saving untold numbers of lives. Daniel Martin, president of the small Christian college, announced the creation of the scholarship on June 14th.
Meis, an engineering major, graduated with the rest of his class that Saturday. Martin told the assembled crowd that “in recognition and honor of Jon’s quick thinking, selfless act and brave response, we are establishing the John Meis scholarship.” The scholarship is intended for future engineering students. Meis himself was the subject of two standing ovations in the course of the ceremony.
The other graduates memorialized the three victims in the shooting with ribbons pinned to their gowns, and Martin honored Paul Lee, who was the only person killed in the attack, saying, “we grieve the loss of our student, your classmate, Paul Lee. We continue to pray for those who are hurting physically and emotionally.”
Aaron Ybarram, who is being held without the possibility of bail, was charged with homicide. He supposedly went into the SPU engineering building with a loaded shotgun and began firing. After Meis tackled him and pepper-sprayed him, other students assisted him in holding the assailant down until law enforcement authorities could reach the scene. Meis is said to have habitually carried pepper spray.
Immediately after the attack, friend and former roommate Dan Keimig described Meis to the media as “extremely prepared,” while his current roommate Ryan Salgado, who had shared a dorm with Meis on campus before the two moved to a townhouse nearby, said that, “any of us would have expected him to act the way he did. He was the right guy to be working there.” Both Keimig and Salgado agreed that Meis was savvy when it came to firearms and also prized physical fitness, permitting him to overcome the attacker at the right moment. Salgado said that Meis was “in shock” after the shooting: “He [had] never done anything like that before. I don’t think he had processed that yet.
Since the incident, the 22-year old Meis and his family have avoided the public spotlight and requested that others respect their privacy, suggesting that attention should be focused on the victims and their own families.
There was other acclaim for the private hero after the shooting, however When it became common knowledge that Meis planned to be married after graduation, every single item on he and his fiancé’s online gift registry were purchased for them by benefactors. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray lauded Meis, saying that he “put his own life at risk and prevented a situation that could have been far more tragic.”
In an email, Keimig, who joined Meis on a missionary visit to the Dominican Republic in 2012, attested to Meis’ religious focus and academic excellence, saying that he was “a man of actions not of words as was proved by yesterday’s events and this has rung true through our relationship.” He added that he was a “quiet but brilliant engineering major whose love for Christ and others has made him the hero he is.”
Meis had a 3.98 GPA as a student at SPU and was on the dean’s list. He also worked as a teaching assistant at the college and interned in Boeing’s 737NG program. In spite of his wishes to deflect attention from himself, he will long be remembered for his heroism.
Thomas Davis – NEWSslinger Contributor