Nearly seven months after he “tackled” a gun-wielding student at Parkrose High School in Portland, Oregon, football coach Keanon Lowe is again in the spotlight for his brave act. A recently released CCTV footage of the incident showed how Lowe, who is also the school’s track coach-cum security guard, handled the teenager who was allegedly trying to commit suicide.
The incident took place on May 17 this year when Angel Granados Dias, the then 18-year-old student, entered his class and pulled out a loaded shotgun from the long black trench coat he was wearing. As students fled the classroom, Lowe intercepted Dias and disarmed him.
The surveillance video shows Lowe pulling Diaz into a hallway and embracing him. While he pacifies the teen, Lowe passes the weapon off to another man who sprints towards them to help. The student tries to break away from his teacher’s grip but Lowe is seen holding onto him tightly while whispering something into his ears.
Coach Keanon Lowe, disarming ParkroseHigh School gunman, obviously knowing there was so much more leading up to this moment for this young man. Humanity- it saves lives. Bravo. #BreakingNews https://t.co/qSKjunPKN5 RT @DrRobyn
— Systemic Sarcasm (@SystemicSarcasm) October 19, 2019
“I saw the look in his face, look in his eyes, looked at the gun, realised it was a real gun, and then my instincts just took over,” Lowe, a former college football standout at the University of Oregon, was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.
No shots were fired that day in May, and Lowe was praised across the country for his act of bravery.
Granados-Diaz had been suicidal for months after he broke up with his girlfriend, his friends and classmates had told Oregon Live. He had planned to commit suicide at school so that his mother would not discover his body, his defence attorney had told a judge last week.
According to the submissions of the district attorney, the school authorities learnt of Granados-Diaz’s troubled state of mind and “suicidal statements”.
Students recounted how Granados-Diaz entered their class in the school’s fine arts building — separate from the main building — just before noon. Lowe had been in the classroom earlier looking for the student.
In his statement after the incident, Lowe had described the incident as “emotional”, saying that after he took the gun, “it was just me and that student”.
“In that time, I felt compassion for him. A lot of times, especially when you’re young, you don’t realize what you’re doing until it’s over.”
In his tweet, Lowe had said he wanted to be part of the solution to school gun violence. “I’m blessed to be alive and extremely happy that the students are safe. I’m not sure what’s next, I haven’t had the time to really think about it. But I am sure I want to be a part of the solution to school gun violence,” he had tweeted.
Parkrose was evacuated and a nearby middle school was on lockdown for several hours as the investigation unfolded. The high school students were bused to a nearby parking lot where they were reunited with their parents.
The release of the incident’s footage on Friday was in response to a public records request, after previous news reports said the coach had tackled the student.
Granados-Diaz, now 19, pleaded guilty last week to unlawful possession of a loaded firearm in public, the district attorney said in a statement. He was sentenced to 36 months of probation, which includes mental health and substance abuse treatment.
“He is deeply remorseful for the pain that he has caused his family, his friends and the community,” The Washington Post quoted his counsel telling the presiding judge, adding that he “has a lot of people who care about him, despite what he thought back in May”.
As soon as the surveillance footage went viral, netizens were also quick to react to the news and appreciated Coach Lowe for his quick intervention. Take a look at some reactions from netizens:
What the world needs more of, hugs not guns.
— Susan~#Velvet💚Snowflake❄ (@susansporran) October 20, 2019
By the way. The Hero has on the baseball cap.!!!
— lostcause (@33Sail33Comb) October 19, 2019
What a hero! This hit me all in the feels. 😭
— Beth Hansen (@crazycatladyof4) October 19, 2019
Easy to forget with the heightened radicalizing of the right, school shootings were often motivated by feeling outcast. Socially challenged students going through the worst social bullshit on a daily basis. I know the feeling. This guy seems to have understood that. Impressive.
— Allen Cooke (@vectorpicasso) October 19, 2019
Tell me….I ‘m snotting and crying my eyes. So many broken people😭😭😭
— FA Valentine (@valentine_fa) October 19, 2019
Omg this beautiful man.
— Kate Russillo 🌊 (@v_tired_mommy) October 19, 2019
Exactly. That poor child needed compassion and love. Keanon showed him just that.
— ST💙🌊 🇺🇸🇨🇦🇦🇺🇬🇧🏴🇮🇪🇩🇪 (@Estee416) October 19, 2019
Keanon is a hero. Not just because he put his life on the line but because of the compassion he shows to the student.
— TreeShell (@Chele2060) October 19, 2019
(With inputs from The Washington Post and AP)