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Two days after a student opened fire in the cafeteria of a Washington state high school, shooting dead one student and seriously wounding four others before killing himself, the answer to the question that many are asking has remained elusive: Why did he do it?
Police have not released a motive in Friday’s shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School, in which freshman Jaylen Ray Fryberg fired a .40-caliber handgun at a table full of students just after 10:30 a.m., shooting the five victims and causing other students to flee to safety and lock themselves in classrooms.
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Here’s what we know about the rampage:
Classmates and friends describe Fryberg as outgoing and popular, and he was named “homecoming prince” just a week before the shooting. He was proud of his Native American heritage and a member of the Tulalip Tribes, an Indian tribe which has a 22,000-acre reservation nearby, and was on the school's wrestling and football teams.
"He seemed like a nice guy, and he had lots of friends," Erick Cervantes, 16, a junior, told NBC News. But in recent days Fryberg’s mood had turned darker, and his social media accounts suggest that a romantic relationship had soured.
Still, students were stunned that Fryberg was capable of such an act of violence. Alex Hatch, a distant cousin and friend of Jaylen's, was sitting at a table nearby when the gunfire rang out.
"I looked up and Jaylen, he was looking at us, but he didn’t look like him. He looked like different person," Hatch said. "He had a look on his face like he was just realizing what he did."
Law enforcement sources said Fryberg used a .40-caliber Beretta handgun. Officials said the gun was legally acquired, but did not say if Fryberg was the owner.
Who Are The Victims?
A female student was shot dead, and her identity has not been released. Four others were hurt. Two of those shot were Fryberg's cousins, family members said.
Nate Hatch, 14, one of Fryberg's cousins, was shot in the jaw and is in serious condition. He regained consciousness late Friday or early Saturday, but could not speak because he was intubated, his grandfather told TODAY. Officials at Harborview Medical Center said Saturday he is improving.
Andrew Fryberg, 15, also one of Jaylen Fryberg's cousins, is in critical condition at Harborview after undergoing "extensive" surgery. "They’re just three complete buddies, and they couldn't be closer than three brothers,” Nate Hatch's grandfather, Don Hatch, told TODAY, referring to the gunman and the two wounded boys.
Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, 14, was shot in the head and remained in critical condition at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett Saturday.
Gia Soriano, also 14, was shot in the head and is in critical condition at Providence. The next three days will be "crucial" in both girls' recovery, and they are being "monitored moment-by-moment," with doctors nearby, the hospital's chief medical officer, Dr. Joanne Roberts, told reporters Saturday.
Family members released a statement through the hospital Saturday saying they were "shock" but have asked for privacy. It is unclear what relationship either girl had with the gunman, if any.
Why Did This Happen?
The motive is unclear. Fryberg had recently been in a fight with another student, students said, and law enforcement sources believe a romantic relationship may have played a role. During the months, weeks and days before the shooting, Fryberg tweeted several messages that appear to be born of heartbreak.
"I hate that I can't live without you," read one. "Tell me what your plan is.... You can't make a bond with anyone like the bond me and you have right now.... Tell me what your going to do..." read another more recent post.
This week, he posted, "It breaks me... It actually does... I know it seems like I'm sweating it off... But I'm not.. And I never will be able to..." His last tweet came Thursday: "It won't last.... It'll never last...."
It is not known whether the messages are related to Friday's shooting, or if he was motivated by something else.
What Comes Next
Classes at Marysville Pilchuck High School have been cancelled next week as the community tries to heal. Vigils were held Friday night and again on Saturday, praying for peace and remembering the victims. And by Saturday, a makeshift memorial had appeared on a chain-link fence outside the school, with well-wishers leaving flowers, balloons, stuffed animals and other tokens.
Students, staff members and parents are invited to attend a meeting at the high school gym Sunday afternoon, which was advertised as "an opportunity for us to come together as a community to talk about what happened Friday and think together about how our community will begin to heal from this tragic event."
Cindy Honeyman, the mother of an MPHS student, attended a vigil for the victims Saturday. She said of her son and all the other students who had a deadly act of violence shatter what should be carefree days: "It's unfortunate. They are all just a little bit older today."
Sofia Jaramillo contributed reporting.