October 27, 2014

There Has Been a School Shooting in My Town

On Friday morning, October 24, 2014, at 10:39 AM, freshman Jaylen Fryberg brought a gun to Marysville-Pilchuck High School, invited five of his friends to have lunch with him, walked into the cafeteria and shot all five, two of whom are his cousins. He then shot himself.

I was 3.9 miles away, welcoming my husband home from dialysis and doing a little housework.

A few minutes later the local news app I use pushed a breaking news notification to my phone. I very often don't even pay much attention to them. I did tap this one and read a headline about a possible school shooting here in Marysville.

"Oh God, no", I muttered.

And immediately went into GET-ALL-THE-INFORMATION mode.

I was holding out hope that the word "possible" would turn out to mean that that's NOT what happened.

Alas, it was true.

I thought of my children. My son's elementary school is 2.9 miles away and my daughter's high school is 4 miles away from MPHS. I learned later than AJ's school was placed in lockdown.

My friend called because her kids' neighboring school district had put out automated calls about the police activity at MPHS. She and I tried to decipher what was going on, but didn't get very far, mostly exchanging "I can't believe this", "this is so awful", "oh my God" and "WHY?" back and forth. When I told her I had to go, I asked her to try and contact another friend of ours because I was certain she knew kids at MPHS through her son who is involved in sports. Before hanging up, I made sure to say, "I love you".

I was so shocked and stunned....and then we had to get my husband Mark to an appointment over at Providence Hospital in Everett, which happened to be where they were taking the injured. I barely paid attention to anything going on as his dressings were changed, ignoring the sign on the wall requesting cell phones be turned off. When we left the parking garage, we noticed the news vans beginning to assemble outside the hospital.


I had sent my daughter Camryn off early in the morning prepared to not see her again until after 9 o'clock that night because she was going to be participating in her high school's haunted house festivities. Remembering this made me feel a bit panicky. I wanted her home much sooner than that.

Of course the district canceled all extra-curricular activities, though. When Camryn and I spoke briefly, she didn't really understand, and was annoyed by the cancellation, because she hadn't been told all the details. I kind of bit her head off over the phone, saying, "People are dead, honey!"

Because of Mark's appointment and another errand we had to run, we were not able to be at home when the kids arrived. I was so frustrated by this. I just wanted to be home with them, whether they understood the magnitude of what had happened or not. I understood. And my heart was hurting.


Over the weekend I tried to process my feelings.

Sadness - Because children were shot at a school in my town. I feel stupid saying "I can't believe this happened here", but I can't believe this happened here. Sad for the families, and sad for the kids who witnessed the shooting. People shooting other people isn't something anyone should have to see, let alone children. I'm so sad for how this event will change these kids. It will be a defining moment in their lives forever, and not a good one.

Anger - I am so mad! I'm not going to demonize him, but I am very angry at the boy who did this. He had no right to bring his gun to school and he had no right to harm others. I'm kind of angry at his family. The handgun he used was obtained legally by one of his family members, and obviously it was easy for him to get his hands on. I am also angry at the whole gun violence issue.

I'm angry that things like this keep happening. I'm angry that, after all these years since Columbine, we still can't prevent school shootings. I feel like everyone is just sitting on their hands or they're crying, "Don't take our guns away!" And I'm downright livid that school isn't a safe haven for children anymore.

Fear - Afraid for my children. My son sat in my lap and cried after seeing some of the news footage. I said to my father, "Dad, I just want my kids to survive school!" That is a ludicrous thing for a mother to have to say. Besides home with me, school should be the next safest place for my children. My husband and I had to tell our kids what to do if they ever hear gunshots at school. These things didn't happen when I was a kid. What has happened? Why is this happening??

I don't really know how to close this post. Maybe I'm naive, but this is not a subject I thought I'd ever have any first had knowledge of in order to write about it.

A deadly school shooting has occurred in my town. I'm sad, angry and afraid. It's not OK.

I will end with this:
Please send prayers, loving and healing thoughts and vibes to the children involved and their families. They are Nate Hatch, Andrew Fryberg, Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, Gia Soriano, Zoe Galasso and Jaylen Fryberg. Zoe died at the school and Jaylen was the shooter who is also dead. Gia passed away Sunday night. Her family made the beautiful decision to donate her organs. These kids and their families are hurt and grieving. They are living a nightmare. UPDATE: Shaylee lost the battle with her injuries a week after the shooting, as did Andrew Fryberg two weeks after. Nate Hatch is the only survivor.

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