Sheriff: Washington school shooter texted lunch table invites to victims
(CNN) — The five victims in last week’s shooting at a Washington high school were invited to the same lunch table by the shooter.
“It’s our understanding he (invited them) via texting,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary told reporters Monday.
Witnesses say Jaylen Fryberg, a popular freshman, opened fire Friday in the crowded lunchroom at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, about 34 miles north of Seattle.
He killed Zoe Galasso, 14, at the scene and wounded four others before taking his own life, authorities said.
Gia Soriano, 14, who had been in critical condition with head injuries, died at a hospital, the Providence Regional Medical Center said late Sunday night.
“We are devastated by this senseless tragedy,” Gia’s family said in a statement. “Gia is our beautiful daughter and words cannot express how much we will miss her.”
The family will donate her organs.
Of the other three who remain hospitalized, Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, 14, and Andrew Fryberg, 15, are in critical condition. Nate Hatch, 14, is in satisfactory condition.
Andrew and Nate were Jaylen’s cousins.
Don Hatch, Nate’s grandfather, told CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” that the teenager was walking with the aid of nurse when he went to see the youngster Monday morning.
“He just wants to let people know that he’s OK. He’s getting better,” Don Hatch said. Nate Hatch has another surgery scheduled for Thursday and has been told that due to facial injuries he can never play football again.
Will there be answers?
Students, parents and school leaders met inside the gym at Marysville-Pilchuck High School on Sunday to remember, mourn and talk about ways to move forward. Students and parents were separated for private discussions.
“My feeling is that God knows what happened and I think we all ought to leave it alone and leave it there because I don’t think we’re really going to find out really totally what happened,” Don Hatch said.
Hatch said Jaylen’s family is struggling and like everyone else wants to know why this happened.
‘It wasn’t just random’
Investigators in Marysville have not provided details, but students offered up accounts that painted a terrifying, chaotic picture.
Fellow student Jordan Luton was finishing his lunch in the cafeteria when he heard a loud bang.
He saw Jaylen go up to a table of students, “came up from behind … and fired about six bullets into the backs of them,” Jordan told CNN. “They were his friends, so it wasn’t just random.”
According to a law enforcement source, witnesses said Jaylen pulled the gun out of a black backpack before he began firing.
Witnesses described the look on his face as calm, said the source.
There may have been more victims but for the bold actions of a young teacher.
Megan Silberberger, a teacher, was in a nearby office when she heard the shots, said Randy Davis, president of the Marysville Education Association.
“She ran into the cafeteria and saw students down,” said Davis. Silberberger also saw a gunman.
“She ran towards the shooter,” he said, “to stop … and help secure (him).”
Davis would not reveal details of the confrontation.
Silberberger declined CNN’s request to be interviewed but issued this statement: “I am thankful and grateful for the support from everyone. At this time I am requesting privacy.”
A law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Jaylen was indeed having trouble reloading and that it was because his hands were trembling.
Police have not yet said how many shots were fired, but Jaylen had at least one bullet left before the confrontation with Silberberger, because the final shot was the one that ended Jaylen’s life. A Beretta .40-caliber handgun believed to have been used in the shooting has been traced to Jaylen’s father, according to the source.
The sheriff confirmed the weapon was a Beretta, but only said that it was registered and owned by a “family member.” Authorities are trying to determine how the shooter got the gun, Trenary said.
By all accounts, Jaylen was a popular student. Just a week ago, he had been named the high school’s freshman homecoming prince.
“It’s weird to think about, because you see him and he is such a happy person,” sophomore Alex Pietsch said. “You never really see him be so angry and so upset. … People were telling me who it was when I was getting in my mom’s car and I was like, ‘What? This is not happening. … This is crazy.’ It was just surprising to me that him, out of all people, would be the one.”