Jon Meis: The Asian American with pepper spray is the hero in the Seattle Pacific University shooting


You could tell by his face–Seattle Pacific University student Jon Meis was at least part Asian American.

But the mainstream media mostly used one word to describe him: hero.


Meis wasn’t a victim, like my cousin Stephen in San Francisco on May 3.

Or the gunman, like half-Asian Elliot Rodger in Isla Vista on May 24.

On Thursday in Seattle, Meis was the hero. The 22-year-old senior was the student monitor in the lobby of Seattle Pacific’s Otto Miller Hall when he saw a gunman, identified as Aaron Ybarra, 26.

According to news accounts, Ybarra had just sprayed the hall with gunfire, killing one person and wounding two, when he stopped to reload.

That’s when Meis took action–armed only with pepper spray.

Just standard issue stuff. No sriracha. Nothing deadly.

It was all Meis needed to subdue the gunman and tackle him to the ground. Authorities then came to make the arrest.

Meis wasn’t hurt but was taken to Harborview Medical Center.

His friend Patrick Maguire told KOMO News: “He had a lot to live for and he just acted quick,” Maguire said. “I owe him a beer. A lot more people wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t done that.”

Meis is the son of a Boeing engineer and is described as a good student and deeply relgious.

Seattle Pacific is a Christian college.

A family friend, Andrew Engstrom, described Meis to the Seattle Times as “physically and spiritually strong.”

“He’s kind of under the radar, a serious student, but he’s always nice to everyone,” classmate Rebekah Ogimachi added. “It doesn’t surprise me that he would step in to do something like that. He’s a selfless guy.”

Unnamed police sources told KIRO TV News that Ybarra, the suspect, was obsessed with the Columbine High tragedy, where two students killed 15 and injured 21 classmates in 1999. Ybarra is reported to have even visited the high school. He was not a student at Seattle Pacific University.

But the hero was. And he was just armed with pepper spray.

These shootings are becoming way too commonplace. Not one more?

There will be a lot more if this country doesn’t take a more rational approach to the Second Amendment and find ways to restrict gun access to people who shouldn’t have them.

Until we figure that out, we likely will have one more, and another, and another.

Maybe we should take a tip from our Asian American hero, Jon Meis.

He knew how to avert tragedy. And all he had was pepper spray.

UPtype: updates date: A HERO AND A VICTIM. Late Friday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray identified the student killed as Paul Lee, 19, an Asian American from Portland, (Seattle Times,

Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
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