National Edition

In the wake of a shooting, Seattle Pacific University turns to God, faith

Published: Monday, June 9 2014 9:15 a.m. MDT

Updated: Monday, June 9 2014 11:00 a.m. MDT

A group of people gather near a prayer circle on the campus of Seattle Pacific University, Friday, June 6, 2014 in Seattle. Classes were canceled Friday following a shooting at Otto Miller Hall Thursday afternoon. A 19-year-old man was fatally shot and two other young people were wounded after a gunman entered the foyer and started shooting. Aaron R. Ybarra, 26, was booked into the King County Jail late Thursday for investigation of homicide, according to police and the jail roster.

Ted S. Warren, Associated Press

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On Thursday, Seattle Pacific University was attacked by a lone gunman who killed one person and injured three others.

In the hours since the devastating event, faith has helped students at the Christian school as they grieve.

Faith's connection began with Jon Meis, a student who worked as a building monitor at SPU, who stopped the gunman in a heroic move by knocking the shooter with pepper spray and tackling the shooter, The Blaze reported. And, on top of that, Meis wrangled the shooter in a chokehold, keeping him locked down until the authorities arrived, The Blaze reported.

And for one student of the school, Meis’ heroic acts seemed to be guided by a higher power, The Blaze reported.

“Jon Meis is truly one of the greatest guys you will ever meet,” said a student to a local TV affiliate, according to The Blaze. “Little did we know what God would use him for today.”

People have even started showing their appreciation for Meis' heroics by buying gifts listed on his registry for the engaged man, KIRO 7 reported.

In the hours after the shooting, the campus has been caught up in grief. And students have been turning to their faith to cope with the horrific events.

Local Fox affiliate Q13Fox reported that students held a vigil for the shooting, in which many of the students prayed and spoke of God.

“If there ever was a time to rely on that faith in God’s sustenance and support it is now,” SPU President Daniel Martin said, according to Q13.

Martin was just one person who relayed their thoughts about faith and how they can all handle the shooting, Q13 reported. Whitney Dibble is one of those students, and she said she sees the community coming together to honor the victims and everyone who was hurt by the events of Thursday.

“I have a lot of faith in this community, and I know we’re going to come together and with God’s help we’re going to get through it together somehow,” Dibble said to Q13.

They also prayed for the gunman, The Los Angeles Times reported. Bob Zurinsky, the assistant director of SPU’s worship center, said the school was praying "for the one who today perpetrated this madness. Love him in spite of his hatred. Bring him not just to justice but to repentance and to spiritual fullness,” The L.A. Times reported.

And as students continue to grieve, they need to realize this wasn’t God’s plan, said Frank Spina, a biblical studies professor, to The L.A. Times.

"There's no explaining it," Spina said to The L.A. Times. "This is not God's plan. This is not God's will. This is not God's way of teaching us a lesson. Any lesson we could have learned out of this could have been learned otherwise. … It's a day to scream. It's a day to lament."

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner

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