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Keanon Lowe hugging disarmed student was powerful example of compassion, crisis counselors say

Experts said the hug and intervention may help turn the student's life in a more positive direction.

PORTLAND, Ore. — It's the hug seen around the world. Newly released video from the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office shows what led up to and transpired when a student brought a loaded shotgun into a classroom at Parkrose High School last May.

Surveillance video shows Lowe back out of a room holding a shotgun in one hand and holding onto the student with the other hand. Someone runs to grab the gun away from Lowe. That's when then-18-year-old Angel Granados-Diaz and Lowe embrace. 

The video shows the officers arrive with guns drawn. Lowe and Granados-Diaz are sitting together on the floor when police move in to arrest the student.

In an interview last spring, Lowe said about the confrontation, "In that time, I felt compassion for him. I had a real-life conversation. Obviously, he broke down and I wanted him to know I was there for him. I told him I was there to save him, I was there for a reason, and this is a life worth living."

RELATED: Watch: Parkrose coach Keanon Lowe disarms student, hugs him

"The first thing that probably comes across is probably the compassion. That's a pretty amazing thing to see," said David Westbrook, the CEO of Lines For Life, a suicide prevention non-profit in Portland. He said Lowe's action and compassion may change the student's life.

"I think for the student that was an opportunity to maybe put his life in a completely different direction. To let him know that he was that loved and cared for," Westbrook said.

RELATED: 'I'm happy that I was in that classroom for those kids': Keanon Lowe shares details about encounter with Parkrose gunman

As part of his plea agreement, Granados-Diaz will receive ongoing mental health treatment.

"Treatment of mental health concerns and awareness about them are the best steps for people to feel better and able to achieve their goals in society. Mental health treatment is really a great avenue for that," said Jeffrey Eisen, chief medical officer at Cascadia Behavioral Health.

Eisen said he believes that Lowe's hug may have impacted if not saved other lives as well.

"I think intervention went a long way to not only helping the individual who was struggling, but when people saw that video, they saw that there's this option with regards to the way in which we can be compassionate to people who struggle with mental health and substance use concerns," Eisen said.

RELATED: Parkrose student who brought gun to school sentenced to 36 months of probation, mental health treatment

In a statement Granados-Diaz' lawyer said his client took a gun to school to harm himself and no one else.

"Depression and a mixture of circumstances in his personal life led him to that unfortunate decision," the lawyer said. "To quote Angel’s own statements given to law enforcement at the time of the incident, 'I didn’t mean for any of this to happen … I’m sorry for all of this.'

"We wish to echo that sentiment at this time. Although Angel wanted to end his life that day, fate had something else in store for him. He is now beginning the overwhelming process of adjusting back to life in the community and receiving the treatment he needs.

"With the help of his family and friends, and with the support of his community, he will look to do just that. Angel would like to thank Mr. Lowe, the first responders, the Parkrose High School community, and all those who have supported him throughout this process. He is looking to move forward in the best way possible."


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255. The Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 crisis support by text. Text 741741 to be connected to a trained counselor.

Help is available for community members struggling from a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts. Suicide is preventable.

The Multnomah County Mental Health Call Center is available 24 hours a day at 503-988-4888.