In an all-too-familiar scene, a small Christian college in Seattle was terrorized by a gunman who killed one student and injured two others on Thursday. The shooter was stopped by a student-building monitor armed with pepper spray, who bravely tackled him and brought him down while other students jumped on top to help subdue him.
Police said the shooter, identified as 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra, is not a student at the school and they believe he acted alone. They have not yet been able to determine a motive. Ybarra is scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon.
The heroic building monitor was identified by CNN affiliate KOMO as Jon Mess. His roommate Ryan Salgado told The Seattle Times that Meis, whom he called a devout Christian and devoted student, carries the pepper spray as a precautionary measure.
Police Capt. Chris Fowler said the gunman was reloading a shotgun when the tackler used the pepper spray and knocked him down.
“Once on the ground, other students jumped on top of them and subdued the shooter,” he said.
“When I walked outside and saw someone down, that was disturbing seeing a bunch of bullets around,” student Briana Clarke told CNN, adding she saw students covered in blood when she walked out of Otto Miller Hall. “Seeing my friend outside being treated, that was hard to swallow.”
Police said the shooter would have harmed more people had those around him not intervened.
“This story is not about an evil act but about the people that actually lived through this scenario and assisted each other when things were pretty tragic,” Seattle police Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh said, adding the suspect was armed with a shotgun, a knife and more ammunition.
“It just makes me ill,” an acquaintance of Ybarra told the CNN affiliate. “I didn’t think that he was capable of something like that.”
Authorities said a 19-year-old man was declared dead at Harborview Medical Center, while hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said a 20-year-old woman remained in critical but stable condition Friday after five hours of surgery. Gregg said a 24-year-old man who police said suffered pellet wounds to the neck and chest was in satisfactory condition.
Seattle Pacific is a Christian university with a student population of more than 4,200. The school scheduled a prayer service today for noon.