On Oct. 24, freshman Jaylen Fryberg entered Marysville Pilchuck High School’s cafeteria and opened fire. Fryberg killed one student identified as Zoe Galasso and injured six others. Two of his victims, Andrew Fryberg and Nate Hatch, have been identified as his cousins. Two other students have not been identified and suffered minor injuries. Gia Soriano and Shaylee Chuckulnaskit died from the injuries on Oct. 26 and 31, respectively.
School shootings have become all too common in recent years, but this shooting was especially unique in that Jaylen Fryberg seemed to have had targets rather than shooting aimlessly, hoping to cause as many deaths as possible. The Marysville shooting is also different in the sense the Fryberg was not classified as an outcast or a lonely student. In fact, he was quite popular and well-liked by the student body. He had even been crowned homecoming prince only a week before the shooting occurred.
I think the occurrence of this specific tragedy makes us realize that there is no one single type of person that is capable of such violence and destruction. Jaylen Fryberg has been described as sociable, popular and well-liked by all. What I hear from other people when they typically think about mass shooters is that they imagine an outcast of sorts who comes from an unstable home life. The Marysville shooting provides a different perspective about who is capable of terrible acts and the motivations behind said acts.
There have been various reports about Fryberg’s motivation, but one possible reason is that he was recently rejected by Zoe Galasso, who died in the cafeteria, a few days prior to the shooting. Galasso and Andrew Fryberg, Jaylen Fryberg’s cousin and fellow victim were reportedly dating. Another possibility is that Jaylen Fryberg and his reported girlfriend Shilene George had broken up a few days before the shooting due to Fryberg becoming violent with George. Other reports suggest that there had been an altercation between Fryberg and another football player that involved a racial slur. Fryberg wound up punching the other football player and was later suspended from the football team.
In other school shootings, the underlying reasons seemed more vicious and vengeful, like the Columbine shooting, where Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold sought to attack the student body as a whole for rejecting them. In a shooting like Sandy Hook, perpetrator Adam Lanza had been diagnosed with some behavioral problems that manifested in violence and resulted in the death of 27 people. But Jaylen Fryberg was loved and accepted by his fellow students. Fryberg, in targeting his own friends and family, succeeded in causing great pain to the people who loved him the most.
The events at Marysville Pilchuck High School reveal that there is more to school shootings and violence than who is accepted and who is rejected. There are deeper underlying reasons we do not fully understand that contribute to this type of violence. Widespread media exposure may be a factor, as it is a common and effective way to stimulate a reaction among the populous. It is also possible that because school shootings and similar acts of violence have become more common that the general population, young adults especially, has become desensitized to this type of violence. These acts of violence will not stop until we become fully aware of the reasons behind them and find a way to address these reasons.
Devon Brichetto ’18 firstname.lastname@example.org is from Grand Rapids, Mich. Her major is undecided.