Let light shine out of darkness

Let light shine out of darkness

Photo by Mat Hayward / Getty Images

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. — 2 Corinthians 4:6

On the afternoon of June 5, 2014, a young man with a shotgun assaulted students outside and inside Seattle Pacific University’s Otto Miller Hall. The gunman, who had no connection to SPU, injured three students before Jon Meis, a senior electrical engineering major, disarmed him. Other students helped hold the man down, and students and SPU security officers assisted the victims until the Seattle police arrived a few minutes later.

The injured students were rushed to Harborview Medical Center. Thomas Fowler, a senior physics major, and Sarah Williams, a sophomore sociology major, were treated and eventually released from the hospital. Another student, Paul Lee, a 19-year-old freshman from Beaverton, Oregon, died that day.

By the time campus lockdown was lifted, around 5 p.m., students, faculty, and staff had begun to gather in small groups to pray and care for those around them. At a 7 p.m. prayer service in First Free Methodist Church, the SPU community began a journey together through grief, hope, and the promise of healing.

We tell this story in the pages of Response, not to dwell in pain, but to bear witness to God’s presence among us in the midst of that pain. God was with us as we mourned. God was with us as we prayed. God was with us as we offered comfort and encouragement to each other. God was present in the messages of support from alumni and friends in our neighborhood, our city, and around the world. God was with us as, a little more than a week later, we celebrated our 2014 graduates and prepared to send them out into the world. We gathered as a Christian community, and we found strength in God and in one another.

The Cry of the Heart
Paul Lee’s Memory Dances On

The Rise Above Fund

Many people asked how they could offer financial support to Seattle Pacific University following the events of June 5. In response, the University created the Rise Above Fund to support those students directly affected and to meet special needs around the SPU community.

Learn more at spu.edu/give.

Alison Estep and her son

SPU staff member Alison Estep hugged her son, freshman Barrett Estep. Photo by Joshua Trujillo / SeattlePI.com.

President Dan Martin

SPU President Dan Martin spoke to reporters near Third Avenue West. Photo by Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times.

Students praying

Students prayed inside First Free Methodist Church. Photo by Luke Rutan.

God of This City sign

Messages of support arrived each day at a homemade memorial, while student-made banners and signs emerged around campus. Photos by Luke Rutan and Jane Hur.

Card and flowers
Candlelight vigil

Students assembled for an impromptu candlelight vigil. Photo by Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times.

Worship service

The SPU community worshipped together following the incident. Associate Professor of Music Stephen Newby led the singing of “How Firm a Foundation” in the June 6 service. Photos by Luke Rutan.

Seattle Times

A Seattle Times headline reported SPU’s response to the shooting. “We’re allowing ourselves to not really have answers. … What I’m seeing most is the desire to really be together, to find each other, to look after each other. To both give and receive the love of Christ.” Megan Risley Wildhood ’10, Seattle Pacific Seminary student, quoted in the June 8 Seattle Times. Photo by Dale Kegley.

SPU’s Chamber Choir

SPU’s Chamber Choir performed the song “Peace” in Tiffany Loop. Photo by Jane Hur.

The Falcon

The Falcon paid tribute to Paul Lee. Photo by Lynn Anselmi.

Ashton Hall

Students who live in Ashton Hall created signs of support in remembrance of Paul Lee, who lived on Fifth West Ashton. Photo by Mary Campbell.

Group of students

Groups of students could be seen praying together across campus. Photo by Luke Rutan.


SPU assisted students, faculty, and staff in a variety of ways. Counseling and psychological first aid was coordinated by the Student Counseling Center in partnership with faculty from the School of Psychology, Family, and Community, and an outside crisis counselor was brought in to help as well. Other support included the Art Center offering space for creating art as a way to respond. Pieces of art were delivered as gifts for families directly affected (see back cover). Photo by Lynn Anselmi.

Art Center

Photo by Karen Gutowsky-Zimmerman.

Pages of artwork

Photo by Luke Rutan.

Security officer

For a week, security officers from Seattle University (pictured) and Saint Martin's University joined officers from SPU's Office of Safety and Security (center) in a gesture of solidarity. SPU's security officers were first on the scene June 5. Photo by Lynn Anselmi.

Students from the University of California

Students from the University of California, Santa Barbara, sent a message of support for SPU. Photo courtesy of UCSB via Facebook.

You Make Beautiful Things Out of Dust

Worship song lyrics adorned a chalkboard in Martin Square. Photo by Mary Campbell.

Up Next: A Future With Hope – Commencement 2014