Hero who saved countless lives during SPU shooting describes what he saw, heard that day
SEATTLE -- The young man who tackled and stopped a shooter at SPU two years ago spoke for the first time on Tuesday.
Jon Meis was working at the security desk at Seattle Pacific University's Otto Miller Hall when the shooting happened on June 5, 2014. He was a student at the time and only trained to push the panic and lockdown buttons during emergencies.
He was not trained to tackle or fight but he says that was his first instinct.
“I heard someone say, 'Nobody move,' in a fairly loud voice and got my attention,” Meis told jurors at the trial of Aaron Ybarra, who is accused of killing one student and wounding two in the 2014 shooting.
“I saw a man holding a shotgun, several students with their hands up, I heard the gun go off and looked up and saw students running away from that area," Meis said.
Police say Ybarra shot and killed student Paul Lee first. The pellets from that injured student Thomas Fowler Jr. Then the gunman walked inside Otto Miller Hall, coming face-to-face with another student, Tristan Cooper-Roth.
“He pointed the gun at me and told me not to disrespect him; he said he had just shot someone outside,” Cooper-Roth testified.
Cooper-Roth said the terrifying moment lasted about six seconds before Ybarra turned the gun on another female student nearby.
“I saw that she had blood running down her leg,” student Kabrina Rose Kidd said, referring to the last victim, who got shot in the arm and chest.
Kabrina and her professor rushed into an office and called 911.
But even before police got there, Meis chose to fight back.
"Took pepper spray I had in my backpack, I went out the door of my little office room, sprayed him in the face twice and grappled a little bit."
He tackled the shooter and wrestled the shotgun out of the suspect’s hands. He took the gun to a room and had the bravery to come back out and tackle Ybarra, who, Meis believed, was grasping for another weapon.
“I ran back out and grabbed him from behind, held both of his arms,” Meis said.
At first Meis says it looked like Ybarra was pulling out a handgun, but it turned out to be a knife. Meis signaled another student nearby to help.
"He threw the knife several feet away; the other student cleared out the pocket of his sweatshirt that which had several shotgun shells in yet,” Meis said.
The two young men together held Ybarra for several minutes until police could arrive.
Meis has since graduated from SPU; he now works at Boeing.
Prosecutors say Meis unquestionably saved countless lives, including the students and professors who testified on the stand Tuesday.