UPDATE: M-S grad 'doing great' after confronting school shooter

UPDATE: M-S grad 'doing great' after confronting school shooter

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — A 2007 Mahomet-Seymour graduate, hospitalized after a shooting at Noblesville (Ind.) West Middle School this morning, is being credited for stopping the suspected gunman before he caused more harm.

Jason Seaman, 29, a seventh-grade science teacher and coach, is out of surgery at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, according to a public post by his mother, Kristi, who added that her son had been “hit three times” but she had been told he was in “good condition.”

“Jason is out of surgery and is doing well,” Kristi Seaman wrote in a public Facebook post. Her son took three shots — one in the abdomen, hip and forearm, she said.

On Friday afternoon, Jason Seaman released a statement through M-S grad and WTHR employee Jim Johnston via Twitter (@JJohnstonWTHR):

"First of all, thank you to the first responders from Noblesville and Fishers for their immediate action and care. I want to let everyone know that I was injured but am doing great. To all the students, you are all wonderful and I thank you for your support. You are the reason I teach.”

“He’s an amazing kid,” said district Superintendent Lindsey Hall. “We’re all in a state of shock.”

A student told The Associated Press that he saw Seaman tackle a fellow student who fired shots inside the classroom.

Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker said the class was taking a test when the student walked in late, pulled out a gun and started firing.

He said the teacher “immediately ran at him, swatted a gun out of his hand and tackled him to the ground,” adding, “if it weren’t for him, more of us would have been injured for sure.”

Seaman played multiple sports at Mahomet-Seymour. In 2007, he was named News-Gazette Athlete of the Year.

A two-sport All-Area performer (football, basketball), Seaman went on to play college football at Southern Illinois.

Former M-S boys’ basketball coach Chad Benedict, a P.E. teacher at M-S who will serve as an assistant principal at the school starting July 1, said he was in a meeting on Friday morning when he received the news about Seaman.

“My first reaction was, ‘He stopped it,’” Benedict said. “That was my assumption without even getting any of the details because that’s just who he is.”

Seaman was a senior during Benedict’s first season in charge of the Bulldogs in 2006-07.

“He was injured his junior year, and then he got healthy,” Benedict said. “The thing that I always appreciated about him was, number one, he was humble, and number two, he was selfless. He was a fantastic teammate. This was a kid that really had a lot of high-level interest athletically and could have played three sports in college if he wanted to.”

Seaman also left a mark on Benedict’s son, Noah, who just graduated this month from M-S.

“Noah was in first grade at the time, but he hung out at the high school and watched all the sports,” Chad Benedict said. “They had a day at his grade school where they could bring a friend to lunch day, and Noah got Jason to come down. He ate lunch with Noah and played football with him at recess. That was a really big deal to Noah, and that’s just the kind of person Jason is.”

Keith Pogue, Seaman’s track and field coach at M-S and an assistant football coach when Seaman was with the Bulldogs, was devastated to hear the news on Friday morning.

“It’s really shook me up,” Pogue said. “It’s affecting me more so than I imagined, to be honest.”

Pogue said he exchanged messages with him once Seaman became the football coach at Noblesville West. Pogue said coaching was a natural fit for Seaman.

“He was so gifted at it and just a natural leader,” Pogue said. “I was really pleased to hear he’d gone in that direction.”

Pogue — who has been connected with M-S athletics in a coaching capacity for more than two decades and has served as the Bulldogs’ head football coach since 2008 — said Seaman brought a different dimension to every team he was involved with at M-S.

“He was a leader for us and maybe, if he wasn’t the best athlete to come through Mahomet in my time here, one of the best, by far,” Pogue said. “He was just a fun kid to be around. He made working hard in practice fun and he brought kids up to his level. He didn’t just enjoy the games, but he enjoyed everything involved in athletics. He was just that positive example all the time.”

Southern Illinois football coach Nick Hill said he found out about Seaman getting shot on social media on Friday morning. Hill was the Salukis’ quarterback during Seaman’s true freshman season at Southern Illinois in 2007.

“He was everything you’d want in a teammate,” Hill said. “He was a hard worker and a tough kid. He always did everything right. He played as a true freshman, and any time you can come in and play on the defensive line at that young an age, you’re a tough kid.”

Aside from Hill, Seaman played with current Southern Illinois safeties coach Marty Rogers and Salukis’ defensive line coach Austin Flyger was a graduate assistant with the Salukis’ defensive line when Seaman played in Carbondale.

“It just gives me chills driving down the road thinking about it,” Hill said. “You don’t really know how to feel, and I know myself and the guys on our staff are just in shock. I can’t imagine finding myself in a situation like that, but what a hero.”

Current M-S boys’ track and field coach Todd Lafond said he found out about Seaman during Friday’s boys’ track and field state meet at O’Brien Field in Charleston, a venue Seaman competed at in 2007 during his time with the Bulldogs. Seaman placed third in state in the shot put as a senior at M-S and ninth in the discus in the two-class system.

“Great kid,” Lafond said. “Doesn’t surprise me that he might’ve been trying to tackle the kid or something. We just keep praying for him. His family has two young kids (and) one was just born a few months ago, I think. I know his parents real well. His brother played soccer with my son. Our coaches know him and were around. Coach (Tom) Willard was his throws coach. As soon as I found out, I went over and told all of them so they were aware of it. It’s a tough situation.”

Seaman grew up rooting for nearby University of Illinois. His parents had season tickets before the kids' activities made it difficult to go to every game.

Illinois showed interest in Seaman during his junior year at Mahomet-Seymour. He made a couple of unofficial visits and was on campus for a Junior Day.

But a knee injury his junior year ended the Illinois recruitment.

At Southern Illinois, he played for Jerry Kill and Dale Lennon.

"Both have been awesome," Seaman told The News-Gazette's Bob Asmussen in 2010 after SIU played at Memorial Stadium. "I can't complain at all about how things have turned out."