Home / National News / Homecoming Prince Identified as High School Shooting Suspect


(MARYSVILLE, Wash.) —  A high school student in Washington state opened fire in a cafeteria at lunchtime, leaving one person dead and at least four injured before killing himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

Eyewitnesses and law enforcement sources identified the shooter as Jaylen Fryberg, a freshman at Marysville Pilchuck High School. Marysville police administrative commander Robb Lamoureaux earlier declined to identify the suspect, but said he was a male student at the school.

A video on YouTube showed Fryberg as his school’s homecoming prince.

Lamoureaux said the deceased victim was a female, but he did not say whether she was a student or staff member.

Two young men and two young women were transported to Providence Regional Medical Center, three with critical head wounds that required surgery, a hospital official said. The fourth, a young man with less severe injuries, was transported to a different hospital.

One of the young women remained in surgery hours after the shooting, while the other two critical cases — one young woman and one 15-year-old male — were both out of surgery but still “very critically ill,” said Dr. Joanne Roberts, the hospital’s chief medical officer.

Because of the extent of the injuries, it has been difficult for Providence Regional officials to identify the two young women in surgery. Officials have been meeting with relatives and asking about birth marks and descriptions of their children’s clothing to help make a match.

“I will tell you we will all go home tonight and cry,” Roberts said. 

Lamoureaux confirmed that the shooting originated in the cafeteria, but did not specify where the deceased were located.

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Eyewitness Alyx Peitzsch told local ABC station KOMO that she was in the cafeteria when the shooting started and she heard four gunshots.

She estimated that there were perhaps 50 people in the cafeteria but she ran out of the room as soon as she heard the shots.

Peitzsch and many other students ran to a church near the school where her mother picked her up.

Police first heard reports of a shooting when someone on campus called 911 at around 10:40 a.m., Lamoureaux said.

The Marysville Police Department said the FBI also was involved in the investigation at the school, which is about 40 miles north of Seattle.

Police cleared the school’s multiple buildings to ensure that the situation was stable and to look for injured students, Lamoureaux said, before transitioning from a dynamic scene to an investigative scene. Several hours after the shooting, several students still were being questioned, he added.

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Elisa Jaffe, whose 14-year-old son, Austin, was being held in a classroom while police finished a second sweep of the school campus, said that he used a friend’s phone to call her to say he was alright.

“I won’t feel he’s safe until I actually get to touch him,” Jaffe told KOMO.

“This is just one of those things — it doesn’t happen, it isn’t real,” she said. “It happens other places. I never imagined it would happen in this community. We will never feel the same.”

President Obama has been briefed on the shooting incident.

Nathan Heckerdorf, a student at the school, told ABC News that he spoke to the suspected shooter before the first class of the day to see how the shooter was doing because the individual allegedly got into a fight over racial slurs.

The suspect claimed to be alright, and Heckerdorf thought the individual seemed normal.

Heckerdorf spoke to ABC News by phone while he was waiting to be evacuated from a classroom that he ran into when he heard gunshots.

“We were told to get away from the windows,” Heckerdorf told ABC News of what he and about 25 other students were doing inside the classroom.

He said the school splits lunch into two periods and the people in the cafeteria at the time of the first shooting would have been there because they had the earlier lunch.

He was headed to the cafeteria but ran away when he heard the gunshots. He said that someone pulled the fire alarm immediately afterwards, causing everyone to scatter.

“Everybody’s still shaken up,” Heckerdorf said. “Some people are crying. But, as of now, it’s a pretty calm atmosphere.”

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