[UPDATED June 10, 2014 includes Brian Meiss’ statement] Rebekah Ogimachi described her classmate as a “kind of under the radar” type of guy. But Pacific University student Brian Meiss, 22, was dramatically thrust into the limelight when he disarmed a gunman who had already shot and killed one student on campus and injured several others (one critically). The university is located in Seattle, Washington USA.
Brian who is getting married this summer is studying engineering. Friends describe him as a “devout” Christian.
On the afternoon of Thursday, June 5, 2014, a gunman entered Otto Miller Hall where Brian, who was working as a monitor, was sitting at a desk in the foyer. After emptying his gun, the suspect Aaron R. Ybarra started to reload. Brian moved in, pepper sprayed the man, tackled Ybarra holding him in a choke hold.
Other students quickly joined in and they held the man on the ground until police showed up. The hall was reportedly covered in blood.
People are calling Brian a hero saying that others would have undoubtedly been shot if he had not acted in the way he did.
After finding a large supply of shotgun shells, in an interview with the Seattle Times, a spokesman for the police said of the gunman:
“He was hellbent on killing a lot of people today.”
Though Brian shied away from publicity after the incident, his friends tell of his deep faith in God. One friend, Melissa Engstrom, attributed Brian’s action to “his faith in Jesus Christ and His example of being willing to sacrifice His own life for others.”
Brian Meiss releases statement
After avoiding the media, Brian released a statement on Thursday about his involvement. He testified of God’s help in the situation and admitted struggling to forgive the man responsible:
“I know that I am being hailed as a hero, and as many people have suggested, I find this hard to accept.
“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 has been deeply touching to read the comments online and realize that my actions have had such a strikingly widespread effect.
“I was thrown into a life-and-death situation, and through God’s grace I was able to stop the attacker and walk away unharmed. As I try to return to a normal life in the aftermath of this horrible event, I pray above all things for strength for the victims and their families. While my experience left me in physical shock, I know that many people are dealing with much greater grief than I have experienced, and in honesty I probably would not be able to handle myself right now if I had personally known the victims.”
“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.”
Hidden until an appointed time
When a classmate described Brian as a “kind of under the radar” type of guy, it reminded me of a verse in Isaiah.
He has made My mouth like a sharp sword,
In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me;
And He has also made Me a select arrow,
He has hidden Me in His quiver. (Isaiah 49:2 NASV)
The verse talks about how God hides believers in His quiver until He is ready to use them. They are nondescript people going about the daily routine of life and suddenly they are thrust into the limelight for an important God-ordained task.
Flying under the radar sounds strangely familiar to what happened in the Book of Esther. When the Queen of the Persian king Ahasuerus fell out of favour, his servants rounded up a beautiful woman — a Jewess by the name of Esther — to serve as Queen. The Jews had been in captivity there for several decades.
Her Jewish background was unknown to the Persian court. Flying under the radar, she was perfectly placed to intervene when Persia’s second in command orchestrated a series of events that would lead to a large-scale massacre of Jews in the empire. When Esther initially showed some reluctance to step forward, her uncle said that God may have placed her in the Persian court “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14b).
Antoinette Tuff perfectly placed to avert a massacre
When Brandon Hill — armed with an AK 47 and 500 bullets — walked into Ronald E McNair Discovery Learning Center in Decatur, Georgia the first person he ran into at the school was Antoinette Tuff. Read: God is booking appointments for you
She is an accountant and wasn’t even supposed to be at work that day. But ended up at the school after her shift was changed.
A born again Christian, Antoinette engaged the man eventually breaking all the hostage negotiation rules telling Brandon about her own personal struggles and need for God.
In an interview with NBC, she said:
I was just praying in my spirit, I was praying on the inside of myself, and saying, “God, what do I say now? What do I do now?” I just kept saying that on the inside because I knew that I had no words to say. And I knew I was terrified!
Even though there was a moment of gunfire between Brandon and police, Antoinette convinced Brandon to put his gun down and give himself up to police.
When the NBC reporter asked Antoinette what can be learned from her story. She said:
To know that God is real. To know that it wasn’t me. It was nothing I did that was so special.
I mean, I feel like I helped somebody in need; that God was able to use me, and it was an honor to be able to be used. I feel like I was in the right place, and God needed me to be there to be a vessel for him.