Paul Lee Foundation set up to battle mental illness

Paul Lee, in an undated photo, died June 5, 2014 in a shooting at Seattle Pacific University (Courtesy family photo)
Paul Lee, in an undated photo, died June 5, 2014 in a shooting at Seattle Pacific University (Courtesy family photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The family of Paul Lee, the Portland 19-year-old killed in the shooting at Seattle Pacific University, announced a foundation to help those battling mental illness.

The family announced the Paul Lee Foundation in statements released Thursday, days before his memorial service.

That service is scheduled for Sunday at Village Baptist Church, 330 SW Murray Boulevard in Beaverton.

Lee graduated from Westview High School in 2013. He was killed when 26-year-old gunman Aaron Ybarra allegedly opened fire in a building at the small, private Christian university. Three others were wounded.

In a statement, his brother, Albert Lee, said, in part:

“Although I lost a dear brother, it’s becoming clearer that God indeed has bigger plans. Even though Paul’s body on Earth has been lain to rest, his spirit lives on through each of us. …

Two women embrace near a prayer circle on the campus of Seattle Pacific University, Friday, June 6, 2014 in Seattle after a shooting left one dead and 3 hurt. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Two women embrace near a prayer circle on the campus of Seattle Pacific University, Friday, June 6, 2014 in Seattle after a shooting left one dead and 3 hurt. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

“Paul had a heart that was meant to give; a gift that is hard to find without God’s love. He never spared his love as he poured out all he had into whoever and whatever he was invested in. Paul took on burdens to ease the hardship of others. …

Mr. Jon Meis, you are indeed a hero. Your brave actions saved many innocent lives. It is difficult to understand why the kind of pain we’ve felt losing Paul exists. But you kept others from feeling that pain, protected them. With your bravery, your humility, and your faith, you are the truest hero in my book. …

“What we need to do is live now, in this moment, without fear. Paul has taught me to love unconditionally and that no matter what struggles you may be going through, love overcomes all.”

His father, Peter Lee, said in a statement:

“I cannot find the enough words – the right words – to describe my sadness. When I think about the hole that Paul will leave in my life, my sorrow is immeasurable.

“I still feel like I am walking through an endless tunnel. I don’t see the light from the other end yet. However, I have been able to walk this far because of many people like you who have been supporting me and my family. …

Paul Lee, 19, shown in a Facebook photo posted by the man listed as his brother, Albert Lee. (Facebook)
Paul Lee, 19, shown in a Facebook photo posted by the man listed as his brother, Albert Lee. (Facebook)

“Two years ago, we made a family trip to Cambodia in order to assist a Christian missionary that we had been supporting. During this time, we were able to watch Paul connect with the local children through his dancing. To Paul, dancing was a language of love that was not limited by any national borders or cultural barriers.

“Paul disliked violence and loved all people no matter who they were, or what they had. And Paul understood that the wounded could hurt others and easily hurt themselves, which explained his desire to major in Psychology.

“The harsher reality is that Paul’s life had been ended by the kind of person Paul would have wanted to help. The news shocked us and at first, we were overwhelmed by fear and anger. As time went on though, we began to understand what Paul’s life and death meant to us and to society as well. ,,,

“We have made plans to launch a nonprofit organization called The Paul Lee Foundation, through which we can continue to support what Paul has tried to do. In doing so, Paul will continue to live with us and work with us. Paul’s sacrifice opened a door which we will now enter, inspired to make a lifetime commitment.”

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The Paul Lee Foundation is designed to raise awareness and provide support to those with mental illness. Contributions to support the Paul Lee Foundation can be made at Wells Fargo. A website should be ready to share on Sunday, the family said.

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