Coach Who Disarmed Student with Shotgun Then Hugged Him Earns Congressional Medal of Honor Award

Keanon Lowe was one of six individuals selected to receive the Citizen Honor Award by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Keanon Lowe
Photo: Gregory Pace/Shutterstock

Coach Keanon Lowe is set to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor’s civilian award nearly a year after his heroic efforts to stop a distraught student from using a shotgun at an Oregon high school, announced the group that grants the award.

It was in May 2019 that Lowe, who worked security and coached both football and track at Parkrose High School in Portland, worked to calm an 18-year-old student after he walked onto campus with a shotgun, officials said.

“[Lowe was] selected for his courageous act when he disarmed a student with a loaded shotgun during an incident at Parkrose High School in Portland, Oregon,” the Congressional Medal of Honor Society said in a statement on March 25. “Mr. Lowe is attributed with saving the lives of the students and faculty of Parkrose High school.”

There were just six individuals selected to receive the Citizen Honor Award by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society this year. Lowe will share the honor in the Single Act of Heroism category with Riley Howell, who died while shielding students from a gunman during an incident at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in April 2019.

While recalling the harrowing incident, Lowe said he had to act quickly to ensure the safety of everyone else on campus.

Keanon Lowe. Oregon/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

“The door opens — I’m within arm’s length of the door, about three feet away from the door, and there’s a kid with a gun, a shotgun,” Lowe told KOIN 6 News at the time. “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,” he continued. “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.”

Security footage of the incident showed Lowe disarming the student, then handing the weapon over to another faculty member. With the danger seemingly over, Lowe then embraced the student in a hallway.

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Officials at the time said the student never pointed the gun at anyone other than himself.

Lowe, who played football in college as a star wide receiver at the University of Oregon from 2011-14, went on to work as an offensive analyst for the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles before coming to work at Parkrose.

According to the Oregonian, the student had planned to end his life before Lowe’s efforts to subdue him, and he was later sentenced to mental health treatment and three years of probation.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society said the ceremony for citizen honorees has been postponed indefinitely.

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