The latest school shooting at a high school outside Seattle is raising more questions about how to best prevent school shootings in the future. The questions are mainly coming from the fact that the shooter in Seattle, 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg, did not fit the mold for a typical school shooting suspect.
In recent years, the news has been filled with reports of school shootings in California, Connecticut and Colorado – and after each of those events, the shooter is usually described as being standoffish, socially awkward or a deeply disturbed individual. This was not the case with Jaylen Fryberg. Teachers and students at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Snohomish County, Washington described Fryberg as a popular and happy football player who was recently elected to the homecoming court. According to Marysville, Wash. police, Fryberg’s motive for attacking friends and his cousins is unknown: Fryberg texted three of his friends and two of his cousins to invite them to lunch. Once they sat down at the table, Fryberg opened fire, killing two of his friends and injuring the others before turning the gun on himself.
While police are still investigating the shooting in Washington state, one thing is known, Fryberg did not show warning signs of an imminent threat like so many of the school shooters before him did. However, according to The Washington Post, the way Fryberg set up his victims and carried out the shooting follows trends in a report released by the FBI. The Post points out nearly 1 in 10 active shooter situations involve the shooter targeting family members. More often than not, the shooter knows his victims or is at least acquainted with them, just as Jaylen Fryberg was.
Shootings like the one in Washington State and many others are never situations we want to see happening, but they are always good reminders of just how much seconds count. Megan Silberberger, a first-year teacher at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, heard gunshots when Jaylen Fryberg started shooting and ran from the cafeteria toward Fryberg in an attempt to stop him. Silberberger yelled at Fryberg to stop, and Fryberg turned the gun on himself shortly after. Silberberger’s actions in just a few seconds could have saved the lives of many other students and made it possible to get the victims to medical care quickly. Silberberger issued a statement to KOMO-TV saying, “I am a schoolteacher, and like all teachers, I am committed to the safety and well-being of my students. I reacted exactly like all my colleagues would in this type of event.”
With active shooter situations tripling since 2011, it is imperative to be ready if a situation occurs on a school campus. That’s why SafeDefend™ is promoting seconds count and helping teachers and staff prepare for emergency situations by giving them the training and tools they need. Jeff Green, a retired school principal and CEO of SafeDefend, said, “Threats are coming from the interior, not the exterior. Most schools are not prepared for a threat from within, and SafeDefend™ is actively working with schools to make sure teachers and staff are ready to react when necessary.”
If you would like more information on how SafeDefend™ can help your school provide emergency preparedness training, please contact us.