SPU shooting victim: 'I just got a second chance'
SEATTLE -- Thomas Fowler, Jr. said he was a step away from certain death when he saw a classmate gunned down in a campus hallway at Seattle Pacific University. One of the shotgun blasts hit Fowler in the neck, and for the first time he is sharing his story about the rampage.
Fowler was one of four students taken to the hospital after the attack at the campus. He didn't think the bloodshed was real at first, and didn't know he'd been wounded until he was locked safely inside a classroom.
"It was just a scene from a horror movie," Fowler said. "Dark hallways, people on the ground, shells everywhere."
The images are seared into his psyche, and Fowler knows how lucky he is.
"I could have been killed easily but I just got a second chance," he said.
A shotgun blast caught the 24-year-old in the neck, just as he saw classmate Paul Lee gunned down in cold blood.
"All of a sudden I see him just collapse to the ground," he said. "I probably wouldn't be here talking to you if I'd been one step closer."
Fowler ran for a classroom, warning other students to lock the door behind him.
"I didn't even realize I had gotten shot until I looked down and saw all of my clothes were bloody," he said.
Pellets bored into his throat and chest, coming dangerously close to a major artery. Prosecutors said Aaron Ybarra killed 19-year-old Paul Lee and wounded Sarah Williams and Fowler in Thursday's shooting rampage at SPU. Fowler said if not for John Meis taking a huge risk, the bloodshed would have been worse.
"What he did saved so many lives. It is incredible," he said.
On Sunday, students joined neighbors at First Free Methodist Church in Seattle to search for comfort and answers. They listened as Meis' brother offered prayers for the victims as well as the suspected gunman.
"We can offer mercy and even forgiveness in a place where there only seems to be hatred," Chad Meis said during the prayer service.
As for Fowler, he is counting his blessings while his wounds heal.
"It's very scary for me, and very scary for my family," he said.
Fowler has one more year to go at school. He said he'll approach it with a whole new perspective on life, and a desire to make the most of every moment.