SEATTLE (AP) — College student Jon Meis, who has shied away from the spotlight since he ended a Seattle campus shooting by pepper-spraying the gunman last week, said Monday it's hard to accept his status as a hero.
Meis, 22, and his family have declined media requests since the shooting, with relatives going as far as to ask his high school not to grant interviews about him.
But on Monday, Meis issued a written statement through Seattle Pacific University, where the shooting occurred Thursday.
"I know that I am being hailed as a hero, and as many people have suggested I find this hard to accept," he wrote. "I am indeed a quiet and private individual; 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."
Meis is a dean's list senior at the small, Christian college in a leafy neighborhood north of downtown Seattle. He was working as a building monitor when the gunman walked into Otto Miller Hall and began firing a shotgun.
A 19-year-old student was killed and two others injured, and authorities say the carnage almost certainly would have continued had Meis not acted by spraying and tackling the shooter while he reloaded.
Nevertheless, Meis added: "What I find most difficult about this situation is the devastating reality that a hero cannot come without tragedy. 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."