Free Methodist Bishop Matthew Thomas is requesting prayer after one person died and other students were injured June 5 at Seattle Pacific University. Police said a 26-year-old gunman opened fire at Otto Miller Hall on the campus.
“We are asking all members of the body of Christ to pray for the safety and healing of the entire Seattle Pacific University family. Pray for the victims and their families,” Bishop Thomas said in his initial statement after the shootings (click here for Thomas’ letter of reflection and response). “Please pray that God’s presence becomes palpable on campus and that SPU becomes a safe place in the future and known as a place of peace in the world. Pray for President Dan Martin and his administration that their next steps reflect justice, truth and grace. And pray that this kind of violence that plagues our nation ceases.”
According to a Seattle Police Department statement released the evening of June 5, “the suspect fired several rounds from a shotgun and began reloading his weapon when a student building monitor heroically intervened. The monitor, a man in his 20s, pepper sprayed the suspect before tackling him to the ground. Several bystanders also seized upon the suspect — who was also carrying a knife and additional ammunition — and took his gun. Police arrived within four minutes of the first report of the shooting and called for medics, who arrived on scene and began transporting their first patient less than 10 minutes after the first 911 call. Medics transported a man … with critical injuries to Harborview Medical Center, where he succumbed to his wounds. Medics also transported a second woman … also with critical injuries, a man in his 20s with pellet wounds to his neck and chest — he is currently in stable condition — and another man in his 20s with minor injuries sustained during the struggle with the suspect.”
The deceased man later was identified as Paul Lee, a 19-year-old freshman from Oregon. On June 11, the SPU community gathered in First Free Methodist Church to remember and honor Lee’s life and to pray for others who have been directly traumatized by the June 5 shootings. A video of the service is available online courtesy of First FMC.
During the university’s commencement, Martin announced an engineering scholarship in honor of Jon Meis, the student who stopped the shooting by pepper-spraying and tackling the gunman. Meis has requested privacy and declined media interviews, but he issued a statement through the university.
“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,” Meis said. “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.”
SPU student Sarah Williams, 19, was critically wounded. She was released from the hospital June 13. While in the hospital, she released a statement thanking “everybody for the incredible outpouring of prayers and support that have been sent to my family and me. … My family and I send our love and prayers to the other victims and to Paul Lee’s family.”
Police corrected some inaccurate details in early reports. “Amidst the chaos of the incident, police had received reports of a second suspect, but officers and detectives have determined the gunman acted alone,” police stated.
The gunman was identified as Aaron Rey Ybarra, 26, who faces multiple charges that include first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and second-degree assault.
Seattle Pacific University is a member of the Association of Free Methodist Educational Institutions.
You can find the original version of this story here.