UPDATED STORY AND ADDITIONAL COVERAGE AT 10:30 P.M. FRIDAY: Popular student’s deadly attack stuns school and community
Two students are dead after one of them opened fire Friday morning in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.
Police said a girl was killed and two other girls and two boys were wounded in the 10:45 a.m. shooting. Several students identified the shooter as freshman Jaylen Fryberg, recently named the school’s homecoming prince.
Zach Yarbrough, a junior, said he saw the shooter “extend his arm across a round table and fire his gun three to four times.” He watched the shootings but didn’t see what happened afterward because he “was already out of the cafeteria.”
Four young people — two boys and two girls — were taken by ambulance to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.
Both girls who are at Providence with gunshot wounds to the head are now out of surgery and in a critical care unit. Both were ID’d by family members with the help of police, but families asked not to release their names. Doctors will monitor brain activity overnight, and there was no immediate prognosis, said Dr. Joanne Roberts, chief medical officer for Providence.
Friday afternoon, teary-eyed teens and adults who said they were family and friends of one of the victims huddled in a hallway near a main entrance to the hospital. Some made calls on their cellphones, but most stood quietly near one another.
Another victim, Andrew Fryberg, a 15-year-old cousin of Jaylen, had surgery at Providence then was transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
The fourth, 14-year-old Nate Hatch, was shot in the jaw and was also transferred to Harborview. He was out of surgery and in serious condition Friday afternoon. He also is a cousin of Fryberg.
“His family is coming to grips with what happened,” a hospital spokeswoman said.
Jarron Webb, 15, said the shooter was angry about a romantic relationship he was involved in, and that the girl was one of the people shot. He said he believes one of the victims was his friend since kindergarten.
Freshmen Brandon Carr, 15, and Kobe Baumann, 14, said they were just outside the cafeteria when the shooting happened.
“We started hearing these loud banging noises, like someone hitting a trash can,” Carr said. They heard screaming and yelling.
“Once I knew it was gunshots, we just booked it,” Carr said.
They eventually joined about two dozen kids inside a classroom with police and FBI. Police told them to stay in there. “Everybody in the classroom was just freaking out crying,” Carr said. Eventually, they were told they could leave, and were loaded onto buses.
Carr said he knew Fryberg and that both were on the freshman football team. He said that Thursday at practice, Fryberg was in good spirits.
“He was all happy, dancing around and listening to music. I don’t know what happened today,” Carr said.
Baumann said he was in fourth-period English class with Fryberg right before the shooting, and that he seemed kind of nervous.
“He sits right up in the front. He got called on, but he just kept his head down and didn’t really say anything.”
Students reported pandemonium in the lunchroom after the shooting, with dozens rushing for doors and then jumping a fence to escape.
Freshman Austin Wright said every exit in the lunchroom was jammed with kids escaping gunfire. “I heard three gunshots and I ran.”
Richard Young, who knows the Fryberg family and has a son at the high school, said he’s heard community members describe Jaylen as “a really good kid.”
“He was well-liked,” Young said. “It’s just a big shock to everybody.”
Fryberg’s postings on Twitter are full of angst, with his most recent posting on Thursday morning saying, “It won’t last…. It’ll never last….”
“I should have listened…. You were right,” he wrote in another message earlier in the week.
Other images on social media showed him joyful, playing sports and spending time with his girlfriend. One image shows him proudly holding the antler of a deer, with a hunting rifle next to him.
Jaylen comes from a family that is prominent in the Tulalip Tribes. His grandfather is director of fish and wildlife at the tribe.
“Anytime something happens to one of our kids, it affects everyone,” tribal communications director Niki Cleary said. “Everybody will be dealing with this for a long time.”
As residents gathered at the Don Hatch Youth Center on the reservation, one Tulalip resident said many members heard the last name on the news and immediately knew who the broadcasters were talking about. By process of elimination, they realized it was Jaylen.
“We’re all one family,” he said. “You never imagine it’s going to happen here.”
A crisis team is providing counseling services at the center. Anyone in the area is welcome to come, behavioral health executive director Diane Henry said.
“We’ll be here as long as we’re needed,” Henry said.
At a noon news conference, Marysville Police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux called the scene an active investigation and said police officers were going door-to-door to ensure that the campus was safe. They were leaving tape to mark the doors of rooms that had been cleared. Officers were finding students and staff members hiding alone or in small groups.
“We are confident that there was only one shooter and that the shooter is dead,” Lamoureux said.
Some of the school’s 1,200 students were evacuated, walking out and across the fields with their hands up. Others were told to stay inside classrooms.
Sophomore Arlene Cortez, 16, says she locked herself in a classroom with other students for about 45 minutes before police came in.
Some were bused to the nearby Shoultes Gospel Hall, where they are being accounted for. Lamoureux urged parents and family members of students to stay away from the scene, saying authorities would provide information on a location for them to be reunited with students.
At the church, tearful parents and students were being reunited, and hugging.
“I never thought I would be standing here after a school shooting,” said Heather Parker, whose son, Corbin, is a senior. “He’s pretty shook up. He just said ‘I’m OK.’ He was trying to calm me down.”
Adam Holston, 14, a freshman, was just leaving the lunchroom when the gunfire broke out. “Everyone just started running. I could hear the gunshots and my heart was racing and we didn’t know what was going on.”
Some ran out to the parking lot, some to the field.
“Someone opened a door and we all ran into classrooms and just stayed there.”
Jery Holston had two children in the school communicating with him by cellphone. They were both OK. Adam is a freshman; Kayleigh is a senior.
Holston said Adam called him this morning yelling, “Dad, dad, hurry, someone is shooting. Please come.” He said his son ran and hid outside in the field by the stadium.
Jery was in Stanwood at the time. “I probably did a hundred miles per hour to get there. I didn’t stop for anything. My heart went into my stomach. As a father, this has been my fear since my kids have been in school, that something like this would happen.”
Ayn Dietrich-Williams, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Seattle, said agents were in Marysville to offer assistance.
All classes have been canceled through next week, and activities and sports through at least the weekend.
Marysville is among three school districts recently chosen to share a $10 million federal grant for improved student mental-health services, which have been identified as a pressing need. Administrators were working on plans for the money just as news came about the shooting Friday morning.
“We’re stunned,” just stunned,” said Jodi Runyon, assistant to Marysville superintendent Becky Berg.
Jerry Jenkins, who supervises Marysville and several other districts for the Puget Sound Educational Service District, said, “The tragedy that happened in Marysville could have happened anywhere. We used to have a much greater social safety net. Marysville has been willing to sit down and work with mental health providers to get mental health services to kids who need it, even though that is not a school’s traditional role.”
This story includes information from Times staff reporters Jennifer Sullivan, Christine Clarridge, Mike Baker, Leah Todd, Lewis Kamb, Coral Garnick, Paige Cornwell, Dan Beekman and Jim Brunner, Times researcher Miyoko Wolf and assistant metro editor John de Leon.