An open letter to the SPU gunman

Mr. Ybarra,

Yesterday, you walked into the doors of a place I’ve called home for years with the intent to harm. The events of June 5th are forever embedded in my mind…but probably not for the reasons you’d assume. I’ve read articles claiming that you had an obsession with Columbine and a desire to partake in a school shooting. I’m writing this letter to tell you that the school you entered yesterday is not just a school, we  are so much more…we are a family.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t angry. I am so angry. I feel violated. I feel shaken. I feel like my home has been compromised and one of my family members has been taken while others fight for their lives today. I do not understand. I cry out for answers. I lament. I’ve never felt fear as deep as I did yesterday waiting for “I’m okay” messages from those I love most. I’d be lying if I said all of this made sense or I thought that this was a part of God’s plan. Yet, I want you to know that through this all…I still have faith. My flesh may be shaken, but my faith is not. My flesh may feel anger, but my faith gives me peace. My home has been compromised, but His kingdom will never be. You took a life yesterday, but not a soul. I find great comfort in knowing that the soul of the young life you took yesterday is resting with our Savior today. You have taken something from SPU, but my hope is that SPU can now give you something back….and that something is Grace.

I can’t image the pain you felt walking into those double doors of Otto Miller yesterday. I’ve walked through those doors many times; each time I was greeted with the smiles of friends, guidance of faculty, and presence of the Holy Spirit. My heart breaks and my eyes fill with tears imagining what my peers and friends felt as you walked in the door. But my heart also aches for you as I can’t begin to imagine the hurt and suffering you felt. While every part of my body wants to shake in anger at you, my soul wants to extend to you Grace. These words are hard to type and harder to understand but I forgive you. I won’t forget, but I have no place to judge you. My wish today for you isn’t pain or suffering. With every ounce of my being, I hope you know that you are loved. I pray for your soul to find comfort in knowing how much our Creator loves and adores you. This act of violence was unforgettable, tragic and will take a lifetime of healing. Yet, I so deeply want you to feel the love of Jesus that too will last a lifetime.

As I wrote before, the place you walked into yesterday is not just a school. We are a family indeed. A family that will pull together. We will grieve, heal and continue to walk the path we are called to walk. We do not have answers, we do not have explanations, we do not even have a plan for tomorrow. Yet, we have our faith. In Him, we know that all is answered, all is explained and all is planned. We rest in the finished work of the cross. Today is a new day. I will remember June 5th forever, yet not because of violence. I will forever remember holding my best friend’s hand yesterday as we cried, extending hands to strangers while they mourn, and worshipping among hundreds of my peers. I will forever remember the circles of people praying in Tiffany Loop and the emails of my professors who just wanted to say, “I love you all”. This is a close-knit community and a family of faith. We will renew our strength and rise up on wings like eagles, we will run and not grow weary (Isaiah 40:31). We do all things in Him and today I praise my God as I mourn and process anger and grief. You didn’t just attack a school, you brought together a family.


A member of the SPU family

“You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name”

A huge thank you to the heros of yesterday: Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, Safety and Security, First responders, SWAT team, FBI, SPU Faculty, and students. I am so thankful for you all and praise God that you were there to help. To my peer: Jon Meis…A thank you doesn’t seem sufficient for your heroic acts yesterday. You stepped up to protect our community and I am so proud to be student of SPU with you. I’m praying for your recovery and thanking Jesus that you have the strength and spirit of a hero.