In the aftermath of last week’s tragic shooting at Seattle Pacific University we were all left to grapple with a flood of painful emotions and profound questions. This includes the 22-year-old engineering student Jon Meis, the man credited with stopping the shotgun-wielding SPU shooter with little more than pepper spray and fearless action.
Meis, rightfully, has been crowned a hero for his life-saving efforts in the face of such unfathomable danger. However, four days after Thursday’s shooting, it’s clear that Meis is uncomfortable with the spotlight he finds himself in the middle of. Through a thoughtful statement released via SPU, Meis speaks of the ordeal, the toll its taken, and the faith that helps lead him forward.
“I know that I am being hailed as a hero, and as many people have suggested I find this hard to accept. I am indeed a quiet and private individual; while I have imagined what it would be like to save a life I never believed I would be put in such a situation. 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,” Meis says. “However, what I find most difficult about this situation is the devastating reality that a hero cannot come without tragedy. In the midst of this attention, we cannot ignore that a life was taken from us, ruthlessly and without justification or cause. Others were badly injured, and many more will carry this event with them the rest of their lives. Nonetheless, I would encourage that hate be met with love. When I came face to face with the attacker, God gave me the eyes to see that he was not a faceless monster, but a very sad and troubled young man. While I cannot at this time find it within me to forgive his crime, I truly desire that he will find the grace of God and the forgiveness of our community.”
As was noted last week, many have jumped at the chance to show their gratitude for Meis’ valor, going so far as to buy him gifts from his wedding registry - which was discovered online by some Redditors on r/Seattle. However, Meis - true to the character he’s displayed throughout this terrible ordeal - would like to focus the attention on the victims, something he makes clear through today’s statement.
“I am overwhelmed with the incredible generosity that has been showered upon me. It has been deeply touching to read the comments online and realize that my actions have had such a strikingly widespread effect,” Meis says. “Moving forward, I am strongly requesting that any future donations be given to the victims through Seattle Pacific University.”
You can find Meis’ full statement here.