A Portland, Oregon, school district has criticized the release of video footage that shows a high school football coach disarming a suicidal student, then hugging and comforting the teen.
The surveillance video, first obtained by the CBS affiliate KOIN 6 News, shows the Parkrose high school football coach Keanon Lowe encountering Angel Granados-Diaz, then 18. While Lowe’s actions in the May incident had been extensively reported, the video provided visual documentation of his quick thinking and compassion.
“It is important to know we denied permission for this video,” the school district superintendent, Michael Lopes-Serrao, said in an email to the Guardian. “First, we believe it’s a violation of Ferpa (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) because this is part of a student’s educational record.
“Just as important, this release of this footage has a significant negative impact on our students, staff, and families in Parkrose. We were not warned that KOIN had a copy of this video. We have asked KOIN to take it down. This was a very traumatic event for our community and the release of the video helps no one involved.”
The TV station declined to comment.
The DA’s office said: “The video was released yesterday afternoon pursuant to a public records request first submitted by KOIN-TV in Portland, Oregon upon the adjudication of this case. We have no additional comment.”
The Guardian has removed the video from this article.
At around noon on 17 May this year, Granados-Diaz walked on to campus, carrying a shotgun. He went into a classroom with the intent of killing himself, authorities said, not to kill other students, and did not aim the gun at anyone else.
According to prior reports, Lowe, once a star wide receiver for the University of Oregon Ducks, said he was summoned to the fine arts building to get a student.
“The door opens – I’m within arm’s length of the door, about 3ft away from the door, and there’s a kid with a gun, a shotgun. In a fraction of a second, I analyzed everything really fast.
“I saw the look in his face, look in his eyes, looked at the gun, realized it was a real gun and then my instincts just took over. I lunged for the gun, put two hands on the gun. He had his two hands on the gun and obviously the kids are running out of the classroom and screaming.”
Lowe handed the firearm to a teacher and embraced Granados-Diaz.
“I just held him and told him that I was there to save him,” Lowe said. “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.”
On 10 October, Granados-Diaz pleaded guilty to two charges of having a loaded gun in public. The gun was purchased legally, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reported.
Prosecutors and Granados-Diaz’s lawyer insisted the incident was not a potential school shooting. The student made a suicidal remark before the incident and was drunk upon arriving at Parkrose, his lawyer said.
“The evidence he was at Parkrose high school to commit suicide is overwhelming,” said Adam Thayne, a defense attorney. “It is also overwhelming that he was there to hurt himself and nobody else.”
Granados-Diaz did not fire and only pointed the gun at himself. Under his plea agreement, he will be on probation for 36 months and undergo mental health and substance abuse treatment, OPB reported.
“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 and I was meant to stop a tragedy,” Lowe recalled.
Lowe, from the nearby city of Gresham, was employed as an offensive analyst for the San Francisco 49ers when he found out his best friend had died from a drug overdose.
“That shattered my whole life. That changed everything,’ he said, according to Oregonlive.com. “I said, ‘I’m going back.’”
“Life ain’t about me, right? Life is about how I can help other people. So I came to help Parkrose. I came to change lives.”
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255. In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.