Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Thanks, Jon, for being a real hero

In the four days since a gunman opened fire on the Seattle Pacific University campus, killing one student and wounding two, Jon Meis has been celebrated as a hero.

After the story of how the 22-year-old electrical-engineering student tackled the gunman spread across social media, well-wishers bought out all the gifts on his wedding registry — he is to be married this month — and raised more than $29,000 on a crowdfunding website.

When the gunman — later identified as Aaron Ybarra — opened fire at the university on Thursday afternoon, Meis made a split-second decision. As Ybarra stopped to reload his weapon in blood-splattered Otto Miller Hall, Meis saw an opportunity.

He ran up to Ybarra and pepper-sprayed him, then tackled him to the ground. Police arrived moments later and handcuffed Ybarra.

As people learned of Meis' bravery, they also learned that he was getting married on June 21. Links to his wedding registry at Crate and Barrel were circulated online, including a post on the social network Reddit reading: "This is the wedding registry for the man who subdued the SPU gunman. You know what to do."

And they did. Every item listed was quickly bought.

"It's only a loaf pan, but it gave me the chance to say thank you," someone wrote.

"My company just bought him a memory foam mattress pad with my company Visa," wrote another person.

When local ESPN radio executive producer Jessamyn McIntyre shared a tweet about Meis' wedding registry, many of her followers asked her if there were other ways to show support. Her hunt for a website for leaving donations came up empty, but McIntyre created one herself on GoFundMe.com to help Meis and Kaylie Sparks go on a honeymoon and plan their future.

"Five thousand dollars seemed like a reasonable amount of money to raise," McIntrye said.

Her expectations were surpassed, she said. "The money has just been astounding." By Sunday afternoon, more than $44,000 had been raised.

One donor left the following comment with her $50: "Thank you for standing up, doing the right thing, selflessly. Because of you, people lived, will go on to get married, pursue their dreams, do things big and small to make this world a better place.''

Neither Meis nor his family members have spoken about his actions.

Meis typically carries pepper spray with him because he likes to be prepared wherever he goes, said Ryan Salgado, Meis' roommate for the past four years.

Friends described Meis as quiet and athletic, a runner who values his privacy. "He's kind of under the radar, a serious student but he's always nice to everyone," classmate Rebekah Ogimachi said. "It doesn't surprise me that he would step in to do something like that. He's a selfless guy."

According to records, Ybarra is a 26-year-old alcoholic with multiple encounters with the mental-health system. Alarm bells about Ybarra began sounding as long ago as October 2010. About that time he was attending a community college and working at a gun range. That month he drunkenly called 911, telling dispatchers "he was suicidal and had a rage inside him."

Contributing: Seattlepi.com, bbc.com, tbt*

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