now marysville


by Frank Manning

On October 24, just after 10:30 am, a 14-year-old freshman walked into the lunchroom of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, in Marysville WA, and pumped bullets from a .40-caliber pistol into the heads of five students sitting at a table there. They were three girls and two boys, most also 14 and one 15 years old. The shooter then took his own life. One of the girls was dead at the scene, another died in the hospital Sunday night. A third girl died yesterday.

The two boys were the shooter’s first cousins; they were as close as I was with my first cousins who lived a block away. All the kids were members of the Tulalip tribes of Native Americans, whose reservation abuts the city of Marysville and houses a profitable casino-resort and shopping mall. Jaylen Fryberg, the shooter, belonged to a well-known and well-liked Tulalip family. He himself was a popular kid—an outstanding football player and a homecoming prince. He had a girlfriend, but they had recently broken up. That may or may not have had anything to do with what happened last Friday. Local police and tribal leaders have not said too much, but lots of students and parents have spoken to the media and chatted this up online. There’s lots of lurid stuff out there, both the apparently authentic and the unsubstantiated viciousness.

I first learned about the Marysville shooting the same day it happened. Just seeing the news headline on TV when I made my morning tea Friday noonish, I moaned, “Oh fuck, not again!” And now so close to home (about a 30-minute drive up I-5 from my house). And none of it makes any sense. Jaylen was not some bullied outcast or wannabe bad guy. He came from a large loving family, so it seems, and was not materially deprived in any way. And that he would mow down his own cousins and friends—it just blows my logic circuits! I still vividly remember Columbine, but the litany of the other school shootings that followed had a sort of desensitizing effect. Sandy Hook shocked us back to the horror of it all, but that outrage too soon faded. Having it hit so close to home brought it all back for me!

I have no answers or explanations. Obviously, there’s still a lot we don’t know about what was going on in that poor kid’s mind. What scares me is he doesn’t fit any of the profiles for school shooters. Gun control isn’t the answer. Jaylen, his cousins, his father and uncles all hunted together and handled guns in responsible ways. Here in Washington State that kind of gun ownership is pretty much the norm. The pistol was legally purchased and owned by Jaylen’s father. So no gun control measure that would pass Washington’s constitutional muster would have prevented the pistol being available. Obviously, Jaylen was wrestling with demons that none of us will ever understand. What’s tragic is that so many children had to suffer and die because no one around him seemed to notice that anything was amiss.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Foster the People performing “Pumped Up Kicks”


3 Responses to “now marysville”

  1. November 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    What a horrific thing. But I would say he surely fits the profile, It’s just that the profile officials plant for us is simply wrong. They want us to believe that it’s the poor and “evil” kids that do such things, so that we wouldn’t think about how the society is actually at fault and driving kids to that. Also, I will never accept a concept of guns being “handled responsibly”. Guns should not be owned even by just any police. It should be treated as the ultimate and last resort of force. To use an inappropriate metaphore, people with guns should be like jedi knigths – a few and only used in extreme cases. So, in that regard, having guns at home and using them around kids (for whatever) can never be “responsible”.

    And things in the family must have been very wrong for a 14 yo (!) to take his own life. Especially planned as this obviously was. Poor, poor kid.

    • 2 Frank Manning
      November 1, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      I don’t think we will ever bridge the yawning gap between American and European attitudes toward gun ownership. Suffice it to say, the Constitution of the United States acknowledges and protects the right of the American people to keep and bear arms. The concept of responsible gun ownership is well-grounded in objective reality on this side of the Atlantic. Here in the state of Washington we have mandatory gun safety and responsibility courses for anyone who applies for a hunting license or a concealed carry permit. I believe even Dan owns at least one pistol. If he didn’t, a rattlesnake would have put an end to this blog a long time ago! But let’s save that discussion for another time and place. We’ve lost four beautiful, precious children here this last week. And it’s not because of guns, but rather because no one noticed the pain and suffering that one of their own children was going through.

      We all here in Washington state are still trying to figure out why Jaylen shot his cousins and friends. Here in America forensic psychologists with no political or ideological axes to grind have successfully profiled what kinds of individuals carry out school shootings. Loners, unpopular kids, teens tormented by bullies—do a little research, see for yourself. A little generalization here, based on recent events—girls who are bullied beyond their breaking point tend to kill themselves; boys in that situation tend to kill their tormentors. Being poor has nothing to do with the profile. From Columbine through Sandy Hook and Marysville, none of those school shooters could be considered “poor.” The reality is quite the contrary. Something made Jaylen snap, but it wasn’t any of the profiled reasons.

      The outpouring of grief and love in the Maryville-Tulalip community has been amazing. This terrible tragedy is a traumatic shock to people here, precisely because no one can say “Ah, not surprising he did that.” As more becomes known about why this happened I will let the readers of this blog know what has been uncovered. I am grateful to Dan for the opportunity to share this heart-wrenching story with all of you.

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