CNN – The teenage gunman who opened fire in a high school cafeteria in Washington state last week may have had more victims had it not been for the bold actions of a young teacher.
Witnesses say Jaylen Fryberg, a popular freshman, shot and killed a female student and wounded four others in the crowded lunchroom at Marysville-Pilchuck High School on Friday, about 34 miles north of Seattle.
Megan Silberberger, a teacher, was in a nearby office when she heard the shots, said Randy Davis, president of the Marysville Education Association.
“She ran into the cafeteria and saw students down,” said Davis. Silberberger also saw a gunman.
Lunchroom in shock
Investigators in Marysville have not provided details, 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.”
According to a law enforcement source, witnesses said Fryberg pulled the gun out of a black backpack before he began firing.
Witnesses described the look on his face as calm, said the source.
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.”
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,” sophomore Alex 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.”