Gunman at Washington state school targeted his cousins, relative says

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Story highlights

  • "Only God knows what escalated this," a relative of the shooter says
  • Two male victims have been identified as Andrew Fryberg and Nate Hatch
  • Two others identified as Shaylee Chuckulnaskit and Gia Soriano, both 14
  • Official: The gun has been traced to the shooter's father
When a teenage gunman opened fire at students in a high school cafeteria in Washington state, a relative said, he was not shooting at random targets.
Jaylen Fryberg, who witnesses said gunned down students at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, is the cousin of two of the wounded.
"All three of them are cousins, and they live right close to each other," Don Hatch told CNN affiliate KOMO.
His 14-year-old grandson, Nate Hatch, is among four wounded in the rampage Friday that left Fryberg and a female student dead.
The boys were close friends, nearly inseparable, Hatch said. They even went to a school dance together last week, where Fryberg was named the freshman class homecoming prince.
"Only God knows what escalated this. Only God knows," Hatch said, according to KOMO. "Nobody pushed a button with bullying. It's just something that happened, and we don't know why."
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Hatch said he forgives Fryberg and plans on visiting his family.
"I'll say, 'I feel for you and I'll pray for you,'" he said.
Authorities have not publicly identified the shooter or the student he killed.
The shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Marysville police spokesman Robb Lamoureux said.
Wounded in intensive care
The wounded -- two girls and two boys -- are in intensive care in hospitals in Seattle and Everett.
The boys, identified as cousins 15-year-old Andrew Fryberg and Nate Hatch, are at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Susan Gregg, the hospital's spokeswoman, said. Fryberg is in critical condition and Hatch is listed in serious condition, she said.
The girls were identified as Shaylee Chuckulnaskit and Gia Soriano, both 14, according to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett's chief medical officer Dr. Joanne Roberts. They were in critical condition with head injuries.
At a news conference Saturday, Roberts read a brief statement from Soriano's family: "Our family is in shock. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this tragedy. Our hearts go out to the other victims and their families."
Roberts said dead tissue was being removed from the girls' head wounds and surgery was conducted to allow their brains to swell and contract.
"The next three days are going to be crucial," she said.
Of the victims' families, Roberts said: "They are having all of the reactions that you or I would have if we were in their circumstances. Much of the day yesterday was spent trying to make identification. That was terribly stressful for them. We've seen tears. We've seen anger. They are just grieving."
Lunchroom in shock
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Reported shooting at Wash. high school
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Investigators in Marysville, about 34 miles north of Seattle, have not provided details on the shooting, but students offered up accounts that painted a terrifying, chaotic picture.
Fellow student Jordan Luton was finishing his lunch in the cafeteria when he heard a loud bang.
He saw Fryberg go up to a table of students, "came up from behind ... and fired about six bullets into the backs of them," Luton told CNN. "They were his friends, so it wasn't just random."
Freshman Rachel Heichel was sitting at a table about 60 feet from Fryberg. When the shots started, she turned around and saw the shooter standing there.
"When I saw him, I was like, 'Oh my God, that's Jaylen.' I would have never expected it would have been him, out of all people," she said.
School in scramble
Someone called 911, and by 10:40 a.m., police swarmed the building, guns readied.
They went room to room, placing tape over doors to mark the ones they'd secured.
"I've got 30 students at the gym ready to go to the northwest," police could be heard saying over radio. "We're going there to evacuate more students."
Then they came upon the gunman's
body.
The Snohomish County sheriff's office said Saturday that investigators interviewed more than 100 students and confirmed that "a cafeteria worker attempted to stop the shooter."
The Beretta .40-caliber handgun believed used in the shooting has been traced to Fryberg's father, a law enforcement source told CNN.
It was bought at Cabela's in Tulalip, Washington, a federal source said.
Grief, disbelief
It was hard for Luton to make sense of the shooting.
"I have no idea what his motive was because yesterday at football practice, he was all fine, talking ... having a good time," he said. "And then today, just horrible. I don't know what went through his head or what caused him to do it."
Alex Pietsch, a sophomore, told CNN on Saturday that the shooting keeps replaying in his mind.
By all accounts, Fryberg was a popular student. Just a week ago, he had been named the high school's freshman homecoming prince, according to a YouTube video of the ceremony and accounts provided by students to CNN.
"It's weird to think about, because you see him and he is such a happy person," Pietsch said. "You never really see him be so angry and so upset. ... People were telling me who it was when I was getting in my mom's car and I was like, 'What? This is not happening. ... This is crazy.' It was just surprising to me that him out of all people would be the one."
Multiple social media accounts in Fryberg's name depict him frequently hunting and using rifles. Those accounts say he was a Native American and a member of the Tulalip Tribe.
But a Twitter account in his name gave a very different picture, that of a teenager with a broken heart.
Luton could not confirm reports that Fryberg had been bullied. But two weeks ago, according to Luton, Fryberg got into a fight after somebody said "something racist" to him.