Third student dies from Washington school shooting, shooter’s motives still unclear

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Messages of support on the stage near candles and flowers in between morning services at The Grove Church in Marysville, Wash., two days after the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting, on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Lindsey Wasson)
Messages of support on the stage near candles and flowers in between morning services at The Grove Church in Marysville, Wash., two days after the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting, on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Lindsey Wasson)

MARYSVILLE, Wash. (AP) — A 14-year-old girl who was wounded when a student opened fire inside a Washington state high school has died, raising the death toll in the shooting to three, including the gunman.

Gia Soriano died Sunday night, more than two days after she was shot, officials at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett said.

“We are devastated by this senseless tragedy,” her family said in a statement, read at a news conference by Dr. Joanne Roberts. “Gia is our beautiful daughter, and words cannot express how much we will miss her.”

Roberts said Gia’s family was donating her organs for transplant.

Another girl, who hasn’t been officially identified, was killed Friday when a popular freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School north of Seattle opened fire. The shooter, Jaylen Fryberg, died at the scene of a self-inflicted wound.

Three other students remain hospitalized, two in critical condition and one in satisfactory condition.

Earlier Sunday, parents and students gathered in a gymnasium at the school for a community meeting, with speakers urging support and prayers and tribal members playing drums and singing songs. Fryberg was from a prominent family from the Tulalip Indian tribes.

Francesca Tuazon, 17, right, and Nicole Buell, 17, view a growing memorial on a fence around Marysville Pilchuck High School, Monday, Oct. 27. On Friday, Oct. 24, a student opened fire in the school cafeteria, killing two fellow students before taking his own life. The school will be closed all week. Both girls attend rival Marysville-Getchell High School. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Francesca Tuazon, 17, right, and Nicole Buell, 17, view a growing memorial on a fence around Marysville Pilchuck High School, Monday, Oct. 27. On Friday, Oct. 24, a student opened fire in the school cafeteria, killing two fellow students before taking his own life. The school will be closed all week. Both girls attend rival Marysville-Getchell High School. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

“We just have to reach for that human spirit right now,” said Deborah Parker, a tribal member.

Young people hugged each other and cried as speakers urged people to come together.

“Our legs are still wobbly,” said Tony Hatch, a cousin of one of the injured students. “We’re really damaged right now.”

Of the wounded students, only Nate Hatch, 14, who was shot in the jaw, showed improvement, having been upgraded to satisfactory condition Monday. He remained in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and was awake and breathing on his own, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said. Andrew Fryberg, 15, was in critical condition in intensive care at the hospital. Both are cousins of Jaylen Fryberg.

Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, 14, remained in critical condition in intensive care at Providence Regional Medical Center.

Fryberg died in the attack after a first-year teacher intervened. It’s unclear if he intentionally killed himself or if the gun went off in a struggle with a teacher.

As the community looked for comfort, a makeshift memorial on a chain-link fence kept growing Sunday. Balloons, flowers, stuffed toys and signs adorned the fence near the school, which will be closed this week.

Meanwhile, the close-knit community on the nearby Tulalip Indian reservation struggled with the news that the shooter was a popular teenager from one of their more well-known families.

A tribal guidance counselor said no one knows what motivated Fryberg.

“We can’t answer that question,” said Matt Remle, who has an office at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, which is 30 miles north of Seattle. “But we try to make sense of the senselessness.”

Fryberg left months of troubling messages on social media, and friends said he’d recently been in a fight over a girl. One of his tweets said, “It breaks me … It actually does …”

Students and parents said Fryberg played football for the high school and was freshman prince in the 2014 Homecoming court.

Lucas Thorington, 14, had known the victims and the shooter since middle school.

“He had a good life. He was very well known,” Thorington said Saturday. “I don’t know what happened.”

Marysville-Pilchuck High School has a number of students from the nearby reservation.

Tribal chairman Herman Williams Sr. said his community was reeling.

“These are our children. They are suffering, and their lives will be forever changed,” he said.

“The family, both sides, are very religious,” he said. “If I were to walk into their homes right now, they would probably be praying.”

In the nearby community of Oso, where a mudslide this spring killed dozens, people planned to gather to write condolence letters and cards.

Remle said he knew Fryberg and the other students well.

“My office has been a comfort space for Native students,” he said. “Many will come by and have lunc

h there, including the kids involved in the shooting.”

They all were “really happy, smiling kids,” Remle said. “They were a polite group. A lot of the kids from the freshman class were close-knit.

“These were not kids who were isolated,” he said. “They had some amazing families and have amazing families.”

These factors make the shooting that much more difficult to deal with, Remle said.

“Maybe it would be easier if we knew the answer,” he said. “But we may never know.”

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