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Student hit Seattle Pacific gunman with pepper spray as he reloaded

"There are a number of heroes in this," Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said. "The people around (the gunman) stepped up."

SEATTLE (AP) - When a lone gunman armed with a shotgun stopped firing at students at a small Seattle university in order to reload, a student pepper-sprayed him and subdued him with the help of others, police said.

There are a number of heroes in this, Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said. The people around (the gunman) stepped up.

More: Prof says he saw student hero in action, lives saved

A 19-year-old Paul Lee, of Portland, was fatally shot and three other young people were wounded after the gunman entered the foyer at Otto Miller Hall on the Seattle Pacific University campus and started shooting Thursday afternoon.

When the shooter, Aaron Ybarra, 26, paused to reload, a student building monitor, John Meis, 22, disarmed him. The gunman had additional rounds and a knife, McDonagh said.

But for the great response by the people of Seattle Pacific, this incident might have been much more tragic, he said.

Ybarra was not a student at the school, McDonagh told a news conference.

Four people, including the young man who died, were taken to Harborview Medical Center.

A critically wounded 19-year-old woman, Sarah Williams, remained in intensive care Friday after five hours of surgery, according to the hospital. She was upgraded to serious condition.

A unnamed 24-year-old man had pellet fragment wounds to his neck and chin. He was released from the hospital Friday evening.

Meis was also injured in the struggle with Ybarra and was treated and released, officials said.

Ybarra was booked into the King County Jail late Thursday for investigation of homicide, according to police and the jail roster.

Also late Thursday, police who said they were serving a warrant entered a house believed tied to Ybarra. A phone message left at that house in the north Seattle suburb of Mountlake Terrace was not immediately returned.

Messages left with friends and relatives of Ybarra via social media were not immediately returned.

The Seattle Times reported that the suspect's father, Ambrose Ybarra, said he did not know anything about the shooting.

We just hope he's safe, he told the newspaper. It's upsetting to have these accusations thrown around. We're in emergency mode. We are trying to stay calm.

The paper said Zack McKinley described himself as one of Ybarra's closest friends and said he was super happy and friendly.

McKinley said the attack was puzzling because Ybarra was happy to have just started a job bagging groceries at a store. Ybarra could get emotionally low, but McKinley said he had a good group of friends and never saw him depressed.

Student Chris Howard was at Otto Miller Hall when the shooting happened. He said he saw the wounded woman on the floor. Her phone was covered in blood, but she asked those helping her to look through her phone for her mother, aunt and best friend.

She was panicking, Howard said. She said 'I think I'm going to die.'

Howard said he also saw the suspect pinned on the floor.

The suspect was calm. Not speaking. Not moving. Not struggling. Just there, Howard said.

The shooting came a week before the end of the school year.

McDonagh said detectives are working as quickly as they can to figure out the gunman's motive or intended target. He said it appears the suspect acted alone.

The university locked down its campus for several hours. Some students were taking finals in the building that the shooter entered.

On Thursday evening, an overflow crowd packed the First Free Methodist Church on campus for a service of prayers and song. The private Christian university canceled classes Friday and planned to hold a service of prayer, lament and worship at noon.

We're a community that relies on Jesus Christ for strength, and we'll need that at this point in time, said Daniel Martin, university president.

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