By Ben Brumfield
(CNN) — Jon Meis’ reported habit of carrying pepper spray may have saved students’ lives after a man opened fire at a Seattle college.
The shooter had just wounded three people Thursday, one of whom died. He was reloading his shotgun when Meis, a volunteer security guard, saw an opening.
He doused the gunman with the spray and tackled him to the ground.
Other students at Seattle Pacific University piled on and took the weapon away from suspected shooter Aaron Ybarra, 26, police said.
Officers are convinced the bloodshed at the Christian school would have been worse had Meis and the others not intervened.
Meis appeared shaken, at moments on the verge of tears, when ambulances arrived to tend to the wounded. Medics put him on a stretcher and took him to a hospital to check him over.
Police would not give out his name, but one of his friends was quick to point him out to CNN affiliate KOMO and pour out his gratitude.
“I could have been one of these people that was injured or in critical condition,” said Meis’ friend Patrick Maguire. “A lot of (students) were in that building, and he stopped him in the lobby. He didn’t get any farther than that. I’m grateful for him, yeah.”
Meis, an engineering student, has a reputation for keeping a low profile, not seeking attention, The Seattle Times reported. He is known as a devout Christian and an excellent student.
His sister told the newspaper that the family wasn’t commenting for the moment.
But Meis hasn’t been able to dodge the social media limelight, which has plastered his name and photos across the Internet with emphatic kudos.
“Hero” was the common refrain.
“Jon Meis is a hero. I have no words for his courage,” user Molli Elizabeth posted to Twitter.
“Jon Meis, You are my hero! Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (Jn 15:13),” Tweeter Shane Bengry posted with reference to a Bible verse.
Meis got through the scuffle without serious physical injury.
He let out sighs of relief as medical technicians guided him to a stretcher and social media began making his name synonymous with courage.
His longtime roommate Ryan Salgado told The Seattle Times about the pepper spray. He said Meis regularly carries it, just in case.
CNN’s Rick Martin contributed to this report.
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