Football coach and Parkrose High School security guard Keanon Lowe hugs Angel Granados-Diaz, left, as another teacher moves away with the gun Lowe had taken from the senior student moments earlier. KATU/Video
Keanon Lowe didn’t expect to emerge a hero when he walked into Parkrose High School on the northeast side of Portland, Oregon on May 17.
Lowe, the school’s football coach and a security guard, would be called later that day to make sure a student had reported to class on time. No, he was told as he stood inside the classroom in the fine arts building.
The door opened to the student wearing a black trench coat. A gun emerged.
Had this day been like so many others in our nation’s recent history, the outcome would have been very different. It would have brought death and sorrow, all chronicled by news choppers overhead and keyboard clicks online.
But on this day, someone went a different route. And in doing so, changed the story.
Lowe instinctively grabbed the gun away from (then) 18-year-old Angel Granados-Diaz, a senior at the school, as panicked students ran for the exits. Recently-released video of the moments after capture Lowe getting the gun to another teacher before embracing Granados-Diaz in a hug.
Lowe described that moment as “pretty emotional”
“In that time, I felt compassion for him. I had a real-life conversation,” he said afterward. In the video Granados-Diaz, whose attorneys say was suffering from a mental health crisis, is distraught as Lowe holds on to him.
“Obviously, he broke down and I wanted him to know I was there for him,” Lowe said. “I told him I was there to save him, I was there for a reason, and this is a life worth living.”
Early reports said Lowe, a former wide receiver at the University of Oregon, had tackled the gunman. The coach, however, clarified that within a matter of moments he assessed the very real threat Granados-Diaz posed and wrestled the gun away, trying to keep it pointed from fleeing students.
Often, we’re only given a moment to assess a situation and respond. Lowe’s quick reaction was aided by being a skilled collegiate athlete, sure. But the mental state had just as much to do with it. Parkrose was a coaching position few wanted in a section of town most pitied when Lowe accepted the job. From Day 1, coworkers say, they knew he was there for the students.
That mentality had as much to do with his preparedness as anything.
In the last chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul is giving some final instructions. There are notes about the work that can be done in Ephesus (where he was at the time) as well as comments about Timothy and Apollos. Then there is this to-the-point admonition.
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Cor. 16:13-14)
My observation is that we’re not lacking in the number of people being watchful. A lot of things get watched, and shared, and commented over, and shared again, and commented over …
No, the problem occurs when we miss the areas crying out for a Christlike influence. These are the areas where we show how the Gospel has changed us by getting to know people whose only picture of the Church is what they see in the latest story regarding “American evangelicals.”
And to make sure I’m not misunderstood, living out the Gospel isn’t because the Church needs a PR makeover. It’s because that’s what Christ has called us to do. Sometimes, though, it seems we can’t help but get in our own way of that message.
Next week at the GBC annual meeting there is going to be a presentation on the state missions offering, Mission Georgia, and how it is being refocused. It’s a massive effort that will require the help of every church in our Convention. There are numerous needs throughout our state, and Georgia Baptists have the opportuni… no, responsibility to step up and answer those cries for help.
Many people are looking for help in changing their story. They need someone to face them and take the gun away, then give them a hug and let them know they’re loved, that they matter.
In this day, it is the time to act. It is the time to respond in love.
Scott Barkley is the editor of The Christian Index.