Society

Seattle Campus Gunman Was Taken Down By Student Armed With Pepper Spray

| by Jared Keever

It was a student, working as a building monitor, that subdued a gunman on the campus of Seattle Pacific University Thursday afternoon, police said. 

The shooter, who has been identified as 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra, carried a shotgun into Otto Miller Hall on the small Seattle campus while students were in the building taking final exams. He opened fire, killing one and wounding at least two others, according to The Associated Press

The Seattle Times reports that a student, Jon Meis, pepper-sprayed Ybarra as he stopped to reload his weapon. Meis then wrestled the shooter to the ground and other students piled on, holding down the shooter until police arrived. 

Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said Meis may have saved the lives of many of his fellow students.

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“This is a tragedy ... but if we're going to find any good light in this, it’s that the people around (the victims) stepped up,” McDonagh said according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “This incident might have been much more tragic.”

All of the victims were rushed to nearby Harborview Medical Center. The victims have not been identified. 

Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said four people were admitted in connection with the shooting. A 19-year-old man died. A critically wounded woman, 20, was still in intensive care late Thursday night and a 24-year-old-man was reported to be in satisfactory condition. The fourth victim, a 22-year-old man, was treated and released. Police said he had suffered only minor injuries during the struggle with Ybarra.

Seattle Pacific University is a private, Christian school in Seattle’s mostly residential Queen Anne neighborhood. 

Thursday evening students and concerned citizens filled the First Free Methodist Church on the school’s campus.

“We're a community that relies on Jesus Christ for strength, and we'll need that at this point in time,” said Daniel Martin, president of Seattle Pacific University.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, speaking at the same prayer service, noted that the city had experienced other mass shootings in recent years. 

“Today should have been a day of celebration at the end of the school year here at Seattle Pacific University. Instead, it’s a day of tragedy and of loss. Once again, the epidemic of gun violence has come to Seattle, an epidemic of gun violence that has haunted this nation,” he said.

Ybarra was arrested at the scene and remains in police custody. Police said he was not a student at the university and they are still unaware of a motive.

Sources: The Associated Press, Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer