The brave student who subdued a crazed gunman and prevented more bloodshed during a deadly shooting spree at a Seattle college last week released a statement Monday, saying he finds the "hero" label hard to accept.
Jon Meis, a student building monitor, pepper-sprayed alleged gunman Aaron Ybarra during Thursday's assault on the campus of Seattle Pacific University. A 19-year-old student was shot dead and three others wounded.
In a posting on the Christian school's website, Meis said that he was at a loss for words, and noted that the praise for him shouldn't overshadow the fact that one life was lost and several were shattered.
"(W)hat I find most difficult about this situation is the devastating reality that a hero cannot come without tragedy," wrote Meis. "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."
Ybarra confessed to the rampage and told authorities he planned to kill as many people as possible — but he's "sorry" for what happened, police and his attorney said Friday.
The 26-year-old with a history of mental health issues was ordered held without bond pending an arraignment this week on one count of premeditated murder and other assault charges.
Ramona Brandes, Ybarra's public defender, read a statement on Friday saying her client has suffered from mental illness for years and was "delusional" during the shooting.
In his statement on Monday, Meis said, "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."
Meis also addressed a crowd-funding website that a Seattle resident started to raise money for him and his newlywed wife's honeymoon.
The GoFundMe site had a goal of $5,000 but had already garnered some $50,000 from over 1,600 donors by Monday afternoon.
"I am overwhelmed with the incredible generosity that has been showered upon me," wrote Meis. "It has been deeply touching to read the comments online and realize that my actions have had such a strikingly widespread effect. Moving forward, I am strongly requesting that any future donations be given to the victims through Seattle Pacific University."
The university said that Meis would not be speaking to the media further.