Teen gunman invited victims to lunch before cafeteria rampage

Fifteen-year-old Jaylen Fryberg texted a lunch invite to five students before opening fire on them Friday at a Washington state high school, according to local police.

A popular student responsible for a shooting at a Washington state high school on Friday invited his victims to lunch by text message, then shot them at their table, investigators said Monday.

Sheriff Ty Trenary said at a news conference that the five students were at a lunch table when they were shot by 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg. Fryberg then committed suicide.

Detectives are digging through reams of text messages, phone and social media records as part of an investigation that could take months, Trenary said.

"The question everybody wants is, 'Why?'" Trenary said. "I don't know that the 'why' is something we can provide."

Fryberg, a football player who was named a prince on the school's Homecoming court one week before the killings, was a member of a prominent Tulalip Indian Tribes family. He seemed happy although he was also upset about a girl, friends said. His Twitter feed was recently full of vague, anguished postings, like "It won't last ... It'll never last," and "I should have listened. ... You were right ... The whole time you were right."

On Friday, after texting five friends to invite them to lunch, he pulled out a handgun in the cafeteria and started shooting. The victims were Zoe R. Galasso, 14, who died at the scene; Gia Soriano, 14, who died at a hospital Sunday night; Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, 14, who remains in critical condition; and his two cousins, Nate Hatch, 14, and Andrew Fryberg, 15.

Hatch, who was shot in the jaw, is the only victim who has shown improvement. He was upgraded to satisfactory condition Monday in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, while Andrew Fryberg remained in critical condition there.

Soriano's family said her organs would be donated.

"We are devastated by this senseless tragedy," her family said in a statement, read at a news conference by Providence Regional Medical Center's Dr. Joanne Roberts. "Gia is our beautiful daughter, and words cannot express how much we will miss her."

Trenary also confirmed that the .40-caliber handgun used in the shooting had been legally purchased by one of Fryberg's relatives. It remains unclear how Fryberg obtained the weapon.

A medical examiner on Monday ruled Fryberg's death a suicide. There had been some question over whether he might have shot himself accidentally as a teacher tried to intervene, but Trenary said Monday that investigators confirmed there was no physical contact between the teacher and the gunman.

At the memorial outside the school Monday, a group of mourners hugged each other tightly at 10:39 a.m. — the minute the shooting was reported Friday. Flowers and signs were zip-tied to a chain-link fence lined with red and white balloons reflecting the school's colors. Many referenced the victims and said they'd be missed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.