Portland, OR – A high school football and track coach working as a security officer at a Portland high school stopped a potential mass shooting on Friday.
The harrowing altercation occurred in the Parkrose High School fine arts building, as students were sitting in government class, The Oregonian reported.
Football coach Keanon Lowe, a former Oregon Ducks wide receiver who went on to work as an offensive analyst for the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles, stopped into the classroom while looking for an 18-year-old student who wasn’t in class.
But approximately 10 minutes before the class ended, the student Lowe had been looking for showed up wearing a trench coat, witness Justyn Wilcox said.
The student, later identified as 18-year-old Angel Granados Dias, stood in the doorway, then pulled out a shotgun from beneath the coat, according to the Associated Press.
Students screamed and scrambled to get out of the room’s second doorway, which leads to another classroom, The Oregonian reported.
“As I was running, I was just like, ‘Lord, don’t let this be it,’” Senior Alexa Pope told the paper.
Lowe reappeared in the midst of the chaos, and ultimately tackled the armed student in the hallway before he was able to harm anyone, according to witnesses.
“We didn’t hear anything go off,” student Preston Anderson told The Oregonian. “All we know is that Mr. Lowe subdued him and held him down.”
Police responded moments later.
“At some point, a staff member at the high school confronted him,” the Portland Police Department (PPD) said in a statement to The Washington Post. “A Portland Police School Resource Officer and other officers arrived and immediately entered the school and found the staff member detaining the subject in the hallway.”
Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw praised Lowe for his heroic effort.
“I commend the school staff member who displayed quick actions and bravery when he confronted the subject,” Chief Outlaw told The Oregonian.
“Incidents such as the one that occurred today strikes the worst fear in the hearts of students and parents,” she said. “The officers and school staff worked together to respond quickly and ensure the safety of all involved.”
Lowe said he is thankful that everyone involved is safe.
“I’m just happy everyone was OK,” Lowe said after he finished his interview with police, according to The Oregonian. “I’m happy I was able to be there for the kids and for the community.”
Several people in the parking lot outside the school stopped him to thank him and shake his hand.
“When I signed up to be a Security Guard, Football and Track & Field Coach for Parkrose High School, I did so to guide and coach young people whose shoes I had once been in,” Lowe tweeted on Saturday. “I had no idea, that I would one day have to put my life on the line like I did yesterday for my students.”
He said that the decision to tackle and restrain the armed student was an easy one.
“When confronted with the test the universe presented me with, I didn't see any other choice but to act. Thank God, I passed,” he wrote. “I've spent the last 24 hours being more appreciative of my family and realizing we have a serious problem.”
Lowe said he feels “blessed to be alive,” and that he is “extremely happy that the students are safe.”
The football coach has been working for the school for the past two years, The Washington Post reported.
He was a three-year starter at wide receiver from 2010 to 2014 at the University of Oregon, and was once named the collegiate team’s “most inspirational player,” according to the paper.
“He pushes everyone to be the best versions of themselves,” one of his Parkwood High School players said.
“I think he deserves a lot of credit for his bravery,” student Elijah Reginald told The Oregonian. “If it wasn’t for him, someone could have gotten hurt or potentially lost their life.”
Portland Police spokesperson Sergeant Brad Yakots said that Lowes’ heroic actions help to ensure “the best-case scenario,” the Associated Press reported.
“The staff member did an excellent job by all accounts, [and] our officers arrived within minutes and went right in,” Sgt. Yakots said.
Dias transferred to Parkrose High School earlier this year, and had been acting somewhat oddly since he broke up with his girlfriend several months ago, students told The Oregonian.
He’d recently began talking about suicide, and asked his peers what they think happens after death, Senior Ashton Caudle said.
“He’s always been an off kid, but he never made me think that he would do something to us,” Pope said.
Two students alerted a school staff member about Dias’ “concerning behavior,” just prior to the confrontation, Parkrose School District Superintendent Michael Lopes Serrao said in a letter to parents and guardians on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Dias has been charged with attempting to shoot a gun at a school, possessing a firearm in a public building, and reckless endangerment.
He is being held on $500,000 bail, and is scheduled to make his first appearance in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Monday.
Serrao said that Dias will not be returning to the school, and that classes would be held as usual on Monday, The Oregonian reported.
“We will have additional counseling support for students and staff at the school throughout the week,” his letter read. “Additionally, there will be an enhanced security presence to provide a sense of comfort to our students and staff.”
The school’s prom was also held on Saturday night as originally scheduled.
“It is important for our students to connect and make memories with their friends,” Serrao wrote. “We are Parkrose Strong and showed that strength today.”