SEATTLE, June 9 (UPI) -- Jon Meis, a 22-year-old engineering student, issued a statement addressing his personal gratitude and unease about being considered a hero for stopping an attempted mass-shooter's armed rampage that left one person dead in Seattle.
"I know that I am being hailed as a hero, and as many people have suggested I find this hard to accept," Meis said. "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."
At 3 p.m. on June 6, 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra opened fire on the campus of Seattle Pacific University. While Ybarra stopped to reload his shotgun, Meis intervened, attacking the shooter with pepper spray. Ybarra killed one person and injured three others.
Although he is being praised nationally as a hero, Meis has urged the members of his community and Americans to bear in mind the tragedy that put his name on front pages.
"What I find most difficult about this situation is the devastating reality that a hero cannot come without tragedy," Meis said. "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."
Ybarra allegedly confessed while in police custody.