MARYSVILLE — The federal government announced Friday it will provide $2.1 million dollars to support victims, witnesses and first responders affected by last year’s shootings at Marysville Pilchuck High School.
The grant will pay for mental health and victim services, additional school counselors, suicide prevention efforts and other programs at the high school and throughout the district.
“We’re excited about this and what we’ll be able to do,” said Marge Fairweather, the executive director of Victim Support Services.
The nonprofit provides two trauma therapists who mainly work with students at Marysville Pilchuck. Fairweather plans to hire a case manager and third therapist to reach more students in other schools.
On Oct. 24, 2014, a high school freshman shot his friends. Four students were killed and a fifth was seriously wounded. Shooter Jaylen Fryberg, 15, then killed himself.
The school district, Marysville, the Tulalip Tribes, Victim Support Services and Volunteers of America initially applied for $4.2 million. The amount was refined to meet the guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime.
After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Congress authorized the office to set aside $50 million a year to provide grants to victims and first responders after acts of terrorism or mass violence. The money comes from bond forfeitures and fines paid by white-collar criminals.
The federal office provided a $7.1 million grant for recovery efforts after a gunman in 2012 killed 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
SEATTLE (AP) – One of the students wounded in last Friday’s shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School is doing well after undergoing surgery Thursday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
The hospital says 14-year-old Nate Hatch had surgery to repair his jaw. He will need more surgeries to repair the damage. Hatch is listed in satisfactory condition.
Two other victims remain in critical condition: 15-year-old Andrew Fryberg is in intensive care at Harborview; 14-year-old Shaylee Chuckulnaskit remains in critical condition at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.
Three students have died: 14-year-old Gia Soriano, 14-year-old Zoe Galasso, and the shooter, 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg, who shot himself.
MARYSVILLE, Wash. —Among the balloons and flowers tied to the chain-link fence outside Marysville-Pilchuck High School are these: a white wrestling shoe; a youth football team photo, with one player encased in a red-marker heart; and a candle covered with a plastic cup bearing the name “Jaylen.”
They are all tributes to Jaylen Fryberg, the popular 15-year-old freshman who texted five friends to invite them to lunch Friday and then gunned them down at a table in the school’s cafeteria.
Two girls died in the attack, and three other students — including two of Fryberg’s cousins — were gravely wounded. Fryberg died after shooting himself.
While families or friends of shooting victims sometimes express sympathy or forgiveness for the perpetrators, the notion of a mass shooter being memorialized alongside his victims is unusual, experts say. It speaks to the unique grief this community is feeling, even in a nation where such horrors are becoming ever more common.
“Usually there’s so much anger and frustration and bewilderment in the aftermath, and generally the shooter is not someone who was this loved over time,” said Carolyn Reinach Wolf, a mental health attorney who studies mass shootings. “This is a very different response. Some of that is a credit to the community: People are able to get past the grief of the victims and see that the shooter’s family is grieving and horrified just as much.”
Fryberg, a football player who was named a prince on the school’s homecoming court one week before the killings, was a member of a prominent Tulalip Indian Tribes family. He seemed happy, although he was also upset about a girl, friends said. His Twitter feed was recently full of vague, anguished postings, such as “It won’t last … It’ll never last,” and “I should have listened. … You were right … The whole time you were right.”
On Friday, he pulled out a handgun in the cafeteria and started shooting. The victims were Zoe R. Galasso, 14, who died at the scene; Gia Soriano, 14, who died at a hospital Sunday night; Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, 14, who is in critical condition; and his cousins, Nate Hatch, 14, and Andrew Fryberg, 15.
Andrew Fryberg also remained in critical condition. Hatch, who was shot in the jaw, is the only victim who has shown improvement. He was upgraded to satisfactory condition Monday in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he posted a message of forgiveness on Twitter.
“I love you and I forgive you jaylen rest in peace,” he wrote. A friend confirmed the feed’s authenticity to The Associated Press.
Wolf said she urges parents, teachers and others to look for changes in children that could indicate something is wrong — such as Fryberg’s Twitter postings.
“I’m very big on training people to watch for the change, watch for the red flags,” she said. “Yes, he was popular, but there came a time when something changed. If people are educated to look for those, these are things they can do intervene.”
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the Marysville shooting fit a pattern: In two-thirds of school shootings nationally, the attacker used a gun from their own home or from a relative. Authorities have confirmed the gun was legally owned by one of Fryberg’s relatives; it’s not clear how he got it.
“There’s a fine line between suicide and school shooting,” Gross said. “We’ve talked to many parents whose kids took their own lives who say to us there were no warning signs. But there’s a risk just by being an adolescent and going through a breakup or other kind of crisis — you have what’s often a fleeting thought of suicide, and access to a weapon that’s at your disposal to make it happen.”
The Snohomish County medical examiner on Monday ruled Fryberg’s death a suicide. There had been some question over whether he might have shot himself accidentally as a teacher tried to intervene, but Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said there was no physical contact between the teacher and the gunman.
At the memorial outside the school Monday, a group of mourners hugged each other tightly at 10:39 a.m. — the minute the shooting was reported Friday. Flowers and signs were zip-tied to a chain-link fence lined with red and white balloons, reflecting the school’s colors. Many referenced the victims and said they would be missed.
“Jaylen where do I begin, you were my brother my best friend love you bro,” read one message scrawled on a balloon.
“Jaylen, I will never forget you and your beautiful smile,” read another.
Rows of plastic cups covered candles for each of the students — Fryberg included.
As the trafficking of Native women and girls becomes more prevalent in an expanding radius around the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota, politicians and indigenous leaders are seeking to protect these young victims—and help the survivors heal.
“Human trafficking is a serious issue afflicting our region and much of Indian country. Tribes from Washington State to New York have felt its terrible impact,” said Montana Senator Jon Tester during opening remarks at a listening session he held at Ft. Peck Community College on August 28. “Montana and North Dakota have been especially hard-hit by increases in crime, including human trafficking, due to the explosive influx of people and resources following the oil and gas boom in the Bakken.”
The listening session was aimed at gathering more information from tribal leaders and local law enforcement regarding the spike in sex trafficking of underage girls, as well as other related crimes that have increased since the oil boom began in the Bakken region. Also among the panelists at Thursday’s session was United States Attorney Mike Cotter, who appeared at the event to voice the growing alarm shared by he and his colleagues in Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming, about the exploding industry of human trafficking involving mostly Native girls aged 12 to 14 who are being sold for sex.
“If you look around the rural regions of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, you would not expect to find 12-14 year old girls sold for sex on the Internet, or lured by an adult for sex or forced into a life of servitude by predators to sell their bodies to strangers,” Cotter told the audience of about 100 tribal leaders, community members and law enforcement. “It is hard to imagine but it is here in our region, and this corruption occurs with too much frequency and is more prevalent than one would imagine.”
Cotter underscored the fact that human trafficking is a global, national and regional problem that has snared millions of men, women and children into being trafficked for labor and commercial sex. Situated on the energy-rich Williston Basin, the Bakken Oil Patch is located in North Dakota. Since the energy boom in that state began, crime rates in the multi-state region have also spiked, including sexual violence, domestic violence, multiple murders and an increase in the use of meth and other drugs.
“We’re dealing with drug cartels, we’re dealing with people who don’t come to the door with a shotgun, they come to the door with a sub-machine gun,” said Tester. “And it’s very different. A lot of law enforcement agencies have seen a real uptick in crime, but haven’t seen an uptick in police officers or staffing or training.”
Typically, traffickers target mostly young girls who average between 12 and 14 years in age and are usually from low-income homes where one or both parents are absent. Additionally, many of the girls are already victims of child abuse and neglect, and many are struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. In South Dakota alone, Tester said, at least half of the sex trafficking victims are Native girls. Many of the girls, he said, are lured during times of vulnerability, when they may be homeless or struggling in other ways.
Tribal leaders across the region have also begun to feel the burden of the crime rates in their own communities, which are often underfunded, understaffed and ill-equipped to take on Mexican cartels, who they say have infiltrated the region and are well-organized and armed with heavy weaponry, including machine guns, which heretofore have been a rarity in the Northern Plains. The Fort Peck Indian Reservation, for example, is located approximately two and a half hours west of the Bakken region. Still, their tribal chairman said, his community is feeling the downside of the boom.
“Because of our proximity to the Bakken oil field, we are already seeing the negative effects of oil and gas development without any financial benefits,” Chairman Rusty Stafne of the Fort Peck Tribes of Montana, told the audience. “Washington has been quick to promote the exploitation of natural resources, but slow to provide the necessary funding for the increased demand on our services and infrastructure.”
“Adding to the problem is the lack of treatment available to survivors,” said Tester. “The survivors are often children or young adults from impoverished homes with broken family ties. Help for them is rarely available in the Native community—or even within a manageable drive.”
The negative impacts of the rise in crime is also being felt among tribes in South Dakota and Wyoming, both of whom have had an increase in the trafficking of their young girls.
“Energy development is bringing tremendous new opportunities to the region, but with the good comes the bad,” said Tester. “Many of the small towns on reservations and surrounding areas are being inundated with new businesses and more jobs, but also with infrastructure challenges and bad actors attracted to the profits and free-wheeling environment.”
Cotter said the Department of Justice launched the Human Trafficking Enhanced Enforcement Initiative in 2011. In 2012, the Montana U.S. Attorney’s office created the Montana Human Trafficking Task Force to confront the “complex, multi-dimensional crime of human trafficking, which includes sex crimes, violent crimes, immigration crimes, labor exploitation, fraud, money laundering and organized crime.
Among the attendees were Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Tex Hall, Montana State Director of Indian Affairs Jason Smith, Roosevelt County Sheriff Freedom Crawford and Annie Daumiller of the Annie Casey Foundation.
“As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I am very aware of the economic and social challenges facing the tribes in the region. And it’s understandable that no tribe is prepared to deal with the rapid changes affecting the Bakken,” said Tester. “Tribal police departments lack the resources to investigate and detain human trafficking offenders, most of whom are non-Native. By no fault of their own, departments are often ill-equipped to root out the players in trafficking rings that can span reservation, state, and national boundaries.”
Tester added that even though the passage of the Violence Against Women Act had allowed tribes more authority to prosecute crimes committed on Indian reservations by non-Indians, “there is so much more to do.”
Dozens of federal, provincial and community studies compiled by the Conservative government appear to contradict the prime minister’s contention that the problem of missing and murdered aboriginal women isn’t a “sociological phenomenon.”
But some in the aboriginal community don’t quibble with the government’s other main response to calls for a public inquiry — that there has been more than enough research.
Officials point to a non-exhaustive list of 40 studies conducted on the issue between 1996 and 2013.
A closer look at the research shows that in nearly every case, the authors or participants highlight the “root” or systemic causes of violence against aboriginal women and their marginalization in society.
The legacy of colonization, including the displacement and dispossession linked with residential schools and other policies, are cited frequently in the reports. The impact of poverty and lack of housing are also cited as root causes of violence against aboriginal women.
“There are root causes of violence in the aboriginal communities that include things like poverty and racism and this is why it’s incredibly important for us to work with organizations, aboriginal organizations, across the country…,” Rona Ambrose, then status of women minister, told a parliamentary hearing in 2011.
“I think we should not view this as sociological phenomenon. We should view it as crime,” he said last month.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejected renewed calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
“It is crime, against innocent people, and it needs to be addressed as such.”
The government’s related position has been that there have been enough studies — the focus needs to be on action.
“What we don’t need, is yet another study on top of the some 40 studies and reports that have already been done, that made specific recommendations which are being pursued, to delay ongoing action,” Justice Minister Peter MacKay said last week.
Some aboriginal advocates agree there is enough research
Some inside the aboriginal community agree there have been enough studies, but there are varying opinions on whether an inquiry would just go over the same ground.
One 2005 report prepared by three B.C. community groups, entitled “Researched to Death,” pointed to the “striking similarities” in research and recommendations done up to that point.
“The only outstanding element is action,” the authors wrote.
Dawn Harvard, president of the Ontario Native Women’s Association, agrees there has already been substantial research on the sociological causes of violence against aboriginal women.
‘I don’t necessarily agree with just having more research for the sake of research.’– Kate Rexe, Sisters in Spirit
But she says a national inquiry wouldn’t be about the sociology, but rather about determining what specific policies and initiatives are needed to address specific community problems — in-depth research that smaller groups don’t have the resources to do.
“The sociological studies have identified that there is a problem, so your inquiry is going to get into the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts of what is this problem all about,” said Harvard.
“And one would hope that therefore we would have a much more effective response when we come out of it.”
For Michelle Audette, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, an inquiry would be an accountability exercise in a non-partisan forum — akin to the Gomery commission on the sponsorship scandal or the current Charbonneau commission into corruption in Quebec’s construction industry.
Aboriginal leaders agreed to a roundtable discussion to address the problem of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls last month in Charlottetown, PEI. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
“Do we do another research (report)? No,” said Audette. “But this inquiry will bring us together and say, why didn’t we implement those (prior) recommendations? Why are we not putting in place legislation that will force our police forces to automatically exchange data?”
Kate Rexe, who worked on the Sisters in Spirit research and policy initiative on missing and murdered aboriginal women, takes a different perspective.
She says that while an inquiry would provide public recognition for the victims’ families, it won’t necessarily reach the required level of detail.
“If we’re looking at a 30-year time span over a number of different police services, in various communities that have had varying levels of response of police to the families and the communities, you’re not going to get the answers that you would hopefully need,” said Rexe.
“I don’t necessarily agree with just having more research for the sake of research.”
The Snoqualmie Tribe is donating $250,000 to assist in the relief efforts for those affected by the devastating fires burning in Eastern Washington. In total the Tribe is giving $200,000 to the American Red Cross Eastern Washington region designated to the 2014 fire victims and $50,000 to Washington Animal Search and Rescue.
“We are all part of a larger community, and felt in a time like this that it is important to reach out and help those in need. Our hearts go out to all of those affected by this massive fire, and hope that our contributions can help in the recovery and healing process,” said Carolyn Lubenau, tribal chairwoman.
After extensive research, the Tribe decided to place its donations with the American Red Cross and Washington Animal Search and Rescue. Both groups can directly benefit from the donations and make a difference in people’s lives. Officials including the Wenatchee Red Cross have said the best way for people to assist in the relief effort was through monetary donations.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered a loss due to a fire and also to those working so diligently to put it out,” adds Lubenau.
The fires burning in Eastern Washington are part of an eruption of lightning-sparked wildfires across Washington and Oregon that have scorched to date almost a million acres of land. The largest fire in Eastern Washington is the Carlton Complex fire that is the worst of Washington State’s seven fires.