Students gathered on the corner of West Nickerson Street and Third Avenue West last Friday, June 6, leaving flowers, writing notes and saying a prayer for Paul Lee.
The 19-year-old Seattle Pacific University (SPU) student died after he was shot by a lone gunman who entered Otto Miller Hall the afternoon before.
Another SPU student, Jon Meis, 22, stopped the gunman, Aaron Ybarra, 26, after he wounded three students. Meis, a student building monitor, confronted the gunman as he was reloading and sprayed him with pepper spray, subduing him until police arrived.
Meis was treated at the hospital and later released, along with another victim, Thomas Fowler, 24, who suffered pellet wounds to his chest and neck. The third victim, Sarah Williams, 19, remains in stable condition after suffering wounds to her abdomen.
Ybarra — who was never a student at SPU — was booked into King County Jail and is being held without bail. He is on suicide watch.
‘An outpouring of love, support’
Lee was a freshman at SPU from Bethany, Ore. Professors said he was always positive and witty, according to a statement from SPU: “His sense of humor was contagious; he was outgoing and well loved by others. Paul was also known for his deep faith.”
In a statement, SPU president Daniel Martin said the university was “shaken deeply.
“There has been an outpouring of love and support for SPU from Seattle, the nation and the world,” he said. “I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to reach out to us; your love and support has helped sustain us during this difficult time.”
Prayer services were held at SPU and throughout the city following the shooting. The hashtag #PrayforSPU trended on Twitter. All classes were cancelled on Friday, June 6.
The tragedy occurred just a week before final exams and graduations, which will resume as scheduled this week.
Otto Miller Hall, where the shooting took place, is still closed.
Mayor Ed Murray visited the scene following the incident. There, he spoke about the prevalence of gun violence in our city. On Friday, he announced an upcoming special City Council meeting to talk about gun violence and improving safety.
“We can find a way to move forward,” Murray said. “It won’t be easy. Others have tried and others have failed, but I think we are reaching a point in this nation where we must find a solution — we have no choice.”
‘Hate be met with love’
In a statement released Monday, June 9, Meis said, “On Thursday, my life changed. I was thrown into a life-and-death situation, and through God’s grace, I was able to stop the attacker and walk away unharmed. As I try to return to a normal life in the aftermath of this horrible event, I pray above all things for strength for the victims and their families.”
Meis said he was in “physical shock” following the incident but did not personally know the victims. The community has come out in support of Meis, who is being hailed a hero.
“It touches me truly and deeply to read online that parents are telling their children about me and telling them that real heroes do exist,” he wrote.
He reminds readers that a hero cannot exist without tragedy. “Nonetheless, I would encourage that hate be met with love,” he said.
Meis will marry this month. Following a post on Reddit, people from around the community purchased his entire wedding registry and raised an additional $50,000 for his honeymoon. A fundraiser for Lee’s funeral and Wiliam’s medical care has also raised $15,000.
Meis thanked people for their “incredible generosity” but asked that “any future donations be given to the victims through Seattle Pacific University.”
To donate to the fund for Lee’s funeral and William’s medical expenses, visit ow.ly/xNpWv and ow.ly/xNqdU.
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