TULALIP, Wash. (AP) — The Tulalip Indian Reservation sits on the Puget Sound on Washington’s scenic northwest coast, a small community where everyone is “related in one shape or form.”
Tribal members struggled to find answers Saturday following a shooting at a nearby high school in which a young gunman from a prominent Tulalip family opened fire, killing one person and injuring four others – including two of his cousins.
“What triggered him? That’s what we need to find out,” said state Sen. John McCoy, a tribal member, who knew the shooter’s family. “Because from all we have determined, he was a happy-go-lucky, normal kid.”
The shooter was Jaylen Fryberg, a popular freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, a government official with direct knowledge of the shooting told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
As the community coped and the investigation continued, a newly hired teacher was being hailed as a hero for confronting the gunman Friday morning. First-year social studies teacher Megan Silberberger intervened in the attack in Marysville, 30 miles north of Seattle, teachers union president Randy Davis said.
The teacher intercepted the gunman as he paused, possibly to reload, student Erick Cervantes told KIRO-TV. “I’m completely amazed by her actions and I feel for her,” Davis told The Associated Press. “I don’t know why she was in the cafeteria but I’m just grateful she was there.”
A school resource officer also ran to the scene, Davis said. The attacker killed one girl and seriously wounded four others before he died of what police said was a self-inflicted wound. It wasn’t clear if the shooter committed suicide or if he accidentally shot himself in the struggle with the teacher.
Davis said he had spoken briefly with Silberberger, who was traumatized. The Marysville School District released a statement from he in which she thanked people for support and asked for privacy. Students and parents said Fryberg was a member of a prominent family from the nearby Tulalip Indian tribes and a freshman who played on the high school football team. He was introduced at a football game as a prince in the 2014 Homecoming court.
Fryberg left months of troubling messages on social media, and friends said he’d recently been in a fight over a girl. One of his tweets said, “It breaks me … It actually does …” Witnesses described the shooter as methodical inside the cafeteria. Students said the gunman stared at his victims as he fired.
Lucas Thorington, 14, had known the victims and the shooter since middle school. “He had a good life. He was very well known,” Thorington said Saturday. “I don’t know what happened.” Authorities said a .40-caliber handgun was recovered at the shooting scene.
Three of the victims had head wounds and were in critical condition Saturday. Two 14-year-old girls were at Providence Everett Medical Center, and were identified by the facility as Shaylee Chucklenaskit and Gia Soriano. Andrew Fryberg, 15, was at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, a hospital official said.
Providence said the next three days will be key in the girls’ treatment. Soriano’s family released a statement, saying they appreciated “your thoughts and prayers. Our hearts go out to the other victims and their families.”
Another victim, 14-year-old Nate Hatch, was listed in serious condition at Harborview, the hospital said. Family members told KIRO that Andrew Fryberg, Hatch and Jaylen Fryberg are cousins. Two other students were treated at the high school for minor wounds, authorities said. The girl who was killed had not yet been officially identified.
Marysville-Pilchuck High School has a number of students from the Tulalip Indian tribes. The reservation juts into the eastern rim of Puget Sound, where a series of rocky beaches form its border. McCoy said the community met in private Friday night and a prayer service was set for Saturday.
Tribal chairman Herman Williams Sr. said in a statement his community was “reeling.” “These are our children. They are suffering, and their lives will be forever changed,” he said. Ray Sheldon, 82, said Tulalip and nearby Marysville where the shooting occurred are relatively integrated, though he remembers being the only Native American in his class when he went to school.
“Time moves along and we move with it,” Sheldon said. McCoy said on the reservation, everyone “is related in one shape or form.” On Saturday, he said the shooter’s grandmother was his secretary for about 15 years.
“The family, both sides, are very religious,” he said. “If I were to walk into their homes right now, they would probably be praying.”
Bellisle reported from Seattle. Associated Press writer Rachel La Corte contributed from Olympia, AP writer Manuel Valdes contributed from Marysville and AP writer Chris Grygiel contributed from Seattle.