School gunman used texts to gather victims at lunch, police say
SEATTLE — The student who opened fire with a handgun in his high school cafeteria Friday morning in northwest Washington state, killing two and wounding three, arranged through text messages for the five fellow students to be there together, police investigators said Monday.
The investigators have not yet publicly outlined a theory of the crime — what led Jaylen Ray Fryberg to bring a handgun to school and open fire on people who were his family and friends.
But investigators with the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team confirmed that the gathering was no accident. “The shooter had arranged for a meeting of friends during lunch in the cafeteria,” the investigators said in a statement.
Jaylen’s final moments were also etched into greater clarity Monday when the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office said he had committed suicide. Though his death was witnessed by many students, he fell to the ground after a teacher confronted him, raising questions about a possible accidental discharge of the weapon. The medical examiner’s office said it was barred from explaining how it had reached its conclusion, but the police said Monday that the teacher did not touch Jaylen in the moments before he died.
The medical examiner also released the name of the victim killed at the scene: Zoe R. Galasso, 14, who died from a handgun wound to the head. On Sunday night, another 14-year-old girl shot in the attack, Gia Soriano, died of her wounds at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.
The victims were sitting together just after 10:30 a.m. when Jaylen, 15, shot them with a .40-caliber Beretta that police said had been bought legally, was registered and was owned by a family member.
There was some hopeful news, however, as the condition of one of the victims, Nate Hatch, 14, was upgraded to satisfactory, from serious, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said in a statement Monday. He was awake and breathing on his own, the hospital said. Of the two other victims, Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, 14, remained in critical condition at Providence Regional Medical Center, and Andrew Fryberg, 15, remained in critical condition at Harborview, hospital officials there said.
After Gia’s death, her family, in a statement posted on the Providence Regional Medical Center’s Facebook page, said her organs would be donated to help others. “Gia is our beautiful daughter,” the family said, “and words cannot express how much we will miss her.”