Washington school shooter's father pleads not guilty to illegal gun possession

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 16, 2015 2:09 PM

By Victoria Cavaliere

SEATTLE (Reuters) - The father of a teenager who fatally shot four classmates then killed himself at a Washington state high school last year pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges he illegally bought the handgun used in the rampage.

Ray Fryberg, 42, was arraigned in federal court in Seattle on one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. His trial was set for June 22, a court official said.

Prosecutors have accused Fryberg of lying on federal forms in 2013 to purchase a Beretta PX4 Storm handgun, even though he was under a permanent protection order prohibiting him from obtaining firearms.

Fifteen-year-old Jaylen Fryberg used that gun to target a group of his friends and cousins as they sat around a table in the cafeteria of Marysville-Pilchuck High School on October 25.

Four of the students died and one survived. The teen shooter used the gun to kill himself.

The shooting rocked the small city of Marysville, about an hour's drive north of Seattle, and the adjoining, close-knit community of the Tulalip Indian Reservation, of which the Frybergs are prominent members.

It also renewed national focus on gun control laws, background checks for gun buyers and school safety following a string of deadly episodes on high school and college campuses.

According to a criminal complaint, the Tulalip Tribal Court had placed Ray Fryberg under a non-expiring domestic violence restraining order in 2002 after he was accused of assaulting and threatening his girlfriend. That injunction prohibited him from having guns, prosecutors said.

In 2013, he purchased the Beretta and four other firearms over a period of several months, according to court documents.

Authorities investigating the high school shootings found a gun safe in the teenage shooter's bedroom, the complaint said.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Doina Chiacu)