Washington school cancels class as community mourns shooting victims

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 27, 2014 1:45 PM

By Victoria Cavaliere

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Washington state high school where a student fatally shot two 14-year-old girls and wounded three more classmates before taking his own life canceled classes Monday as the tight-knit community mourned the dead, local officials said.

Freshman Jaylen Fryberg walked with a handgun into the cafeteria at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, north of Seattle, on Friday and took aim at a table where two cousins and three close friends were gathered, police and family members said.

A first-year teacher tried to intervene in the attack, the latest in a string of such incidents at U.S. schools that have renewed a national debate about student safety and gun control.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office formally identified the first fatality on Monday as Zoe Galasso, who was shot in the head. Another victim, Gia Soriano, died Sunday. Her family said in a statement they were "devastated by this senseless tragedy."

Fryberg's family has said they were reeling from the incident in which the popular 15-year-old football player shot a group of classmates that included his two cousins, Nate Hatch, 14, and Andrew Fryberg, 15.

Hatch was upgraded to satisfactory condition Monday while Andrew Fryberg remained critical, hospital officials said. Another girl, Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, 14, was in critical condition at a different hospital, officials said.

The school was closed on Monday but will reopen later this week, and a decision on reopening the cafeteria will be made later, said Marysville School Superintendent Becky Berg.

A social studies teacher just six weeks on the job, Megan Silberberger, was credited by witnesses and the Marysville Education Association for trying to stop Fryberg's rampage.

"I believe she's actually the real hero," student Erick Cervantes told local station KIRO-TV. "She's the one that intercepted him with the gun."

The shooter's motive remained under investigation, and Fryberg's family, prominent members of the Tulalip Indian Reservation, said there was no apparent rift between the cousins.

"You would think there was some animosity that caused it, but they were the best of friends," Don Hatch, Nate's grandfather, said.

Police in Washington state responded Monday to two other schools over violence concerns.

In Seattle, a student at a high school that shares a building with the city's Children's Museum was arrested for bringing a firebomb to campus. To the south in Auburn, a community college was in lockdown after a shooting threat, police said.

(Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Richard Chang and Eric Walsh)