Updated: Saturday, Oct. 25 at 11:35 a.m.
A student opened fire at Marysville-Pilchuck High School Friday, fatally shooting another student and injuring several others before taking his own life, according to Marysville police.
Police Commander Robb Lamoureux said the gunman began shooting inside the school cafeteria at 10:39 a.m., fatally injuring a girl. He said the gunman injured four others students, three critically, before turning the gun on himself. Police had no motive.
Police believe the shooter was acting alone, Lamoureux said, but officers evacuated students by bus and cleared each building as a precaution. Parents were asked to reunite with their students at nearby Shoultes Gospel Hall.
The critically-injured students, a boy and two girls, were taken to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett where they underwent emergency surgery for head wounds. The fourth patient, a boy, was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with a jaw injury.
Victims Difficult To Identify
It took some time to identify the girls in critical condition due to the swelling from their head injuries, said Dr. Joanne Roberts, chief medical officer of Providence Regional Medical Center. The staff talked to dozens of families before finally confirming the identities of the girls, said Roberts.
The third critical patient, who was identified more easily, was later transported to Harborview Medical Center.
Gunman's Family 'Normally Resort To Prayer'
Police have not yet confirmed the gunman's identity. However, two student witnesses identified him as freshman Jaylen Fryberg, and a police source confirmed Fryberg's identity to the Associated Press.
State Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, said he knows the gunman's family, who are members of the Tulalip Tribes.
“I did not really know the boy, but I know the parents. And they don’t resort to violence; they normally resort to prayer. They’re a very religious family, so this boy doing this is just totally out of character for that family,” he said.
McCoy added the boy grew up in a household where guns and hunting were a big part of life. He did not know how accessible those guns were. Police said the gun used in the shooting had been legally acquired, but did not elaborate.
Tulalip Tribes Chairman Herman Williams, Sr. said the tribe was "deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy." He asked the media to give the families involved some space.
"The fact that tribal members were involved makes it extremely hard to respond to any inquiries until we are aware of all the circumstances," he said. "Our first priority is to support the families and the children of those involved."
'It Was Super-Scary'
Freshman Tanner Ratynski said he was walking toward the cafeteria when he saw “a stampede of kids.”
“All these kids were just coming straight at me,” Ratynski said. “I asked what happened and all he said was, ‘Someone got shot. Just run.’ So I ran.”
Ratynski ran outside where he was told to go to his scheduled classroom. But when he got to the classroom, the door was locked. He finally found refuge inside a locker room.
“I was confused. And when I heard that someone got shot, I was questioning it ‘cause I know in [chaotic] scenarios people say things that they don’t know is true,” he said.
Student Kain Davis said he was sitting in class when the emergency sirens went off.
“We thought it was a fire drill, then a couple girls ran into the classroom saying some people got shot. Then the announcements turned on, and they said this was a lockdown and not a drill,” Davis said.
The students quickly learned the details via social media, Davis said, and crouched in the corner with the lights turned off for some 90 minutes.
“It was super-scary, everything happening at once. Terrifying,” he said.
“Honestly, I felt really scared at the time,” said sophomore Emmanuel Chavez de la Cruz. “We went to the back of the classroom, and all you could see were the shadows. So like you never know if someone could come in, you know, bust in.”
'Tonight, Hug Your Children A Little Longer'
All weekend extracurricular activities have been canceled, and Marysville-Pilchuck High will remain closed next week, said Marysville School District Superintendent Becky Berg. Grief counselors were available to anyone in need at the district office Friday evening and Saturday morning.
Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement expressing his condolences in the wake of the shooting.
“The loss of life today has left us grief-stricken and anguished — and I’m sure many young people and their parents are worried, too," the governor said. "Tonight, hug your children a little longer and seek comfort from loved ones. Take care of each other.”