Earlier this year, Keanon Lowe, a football and track coach at Parkrose High School in Portland, Oreg., took a shotgun from a suicidal student and then hugged him. Now, Lowe is being awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor Citizen Honor for his bravery and for saving at least one life that day.
According to WGEG News 3, Lowe is one of six honorees chosen by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to receive the award which usually goes to members of the U.S, military, but the Society said that he and the other honorees “exemplify the values embodied in the Medal of Honor: courage, sacrifice, commitment, integrity, citizenship and patriotism.”
Last year, Lowe witnessed Parkrose student Angel Granados-Diaz walk into a classroom with a firearm. Most people who see a student with a gun would assume he intended to be the next school shooter—someone not worthy of anyone’s empathy—but Lowe would soon find out that the only life Granados-Diaz intended on taking was his own.
When the incident was first reported it was said that Lowe had tackled Granados-Diaz before he could harm anyone, but surveillance footage released by the district attorney’s office shows Lowe talking to the student and simply taking the gun, handing it off to another faculty member and then embracing the student who hugged him back.
The district attorney’s office said Granados-Diaz had made suicidal statements to another student. He never pointed the shotgun at anyone but himself and never fired the gun on campus, the district attorney’s office said. He did try to pull the trigger, but the shotgun, which only had one round, did not fire. That is when Lowe took the firearm from him.
“In that time, I felt compassion for him,” Lowe told CNN affiliate KATU. “A lot of times, especially when you’re young, you don’t realize what you’re doing until it’s over.”
Granados-Diaz was arrested and later pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm in a public building and one count of unlawful possession of a loaded firearm in public. He was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to complete 64 hours of community service and undergo immediate mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Adam Thayne, an attorney for Granados-Diaz, said in a statement that Lowe’s actions were “decisive, courageous and compassionate.”
“Angel would like to thank Mr. Lowe, the first responders, the Parkrose High School community, and all those who have supported him throughout this process,” Thayne said. “He is looking to move forward in the best way possible.”
In another interview with KATU, Lowe said, “I’ve been getting a lot of love from around the country, because this is such a story that usually ends in a tragedy, and from God’s will this ended up well. I don’t know if hero is the right word, but the universe works in mysterious ways, and I was meant to be in that classroom. I was meant to stop a tragedy.”
Nah, bro, “hero” is definitely the right word.