Four days ago, 14-year-old Jaylen Fryberg walked into his high school cafeteria and shot three girls and two boys before turning the gun on himself. Both of the boys were his cousins. Fryberg and 14-year-old Zoe Galasso died at the scene. 14-year-old Gia Soriano died from her injuries on Sunday. His three other victims remain in critical condition.
Fryberg walked into a school armed and ready to kill several of his peers and his own family members. Today it came to light that he texted all of his friends to invite them to lunch before he made his way to the cafeteria and shot them all. But he was attractive. And popular. And there was a girl involved. It’s amazing how much we are willing to forgive – and the narrative that will unfold—when the shooter doesn’t fit everyone’s idea of what a “killer” is – and when his intended target includes a girl who broke his heart.
Fryberg allegedly became heartbroken when a girl didn't return his affections and started dating his cousin, Andrew Fryberg, instead. 15-year-old Andrew remains in critical condition after a gunshot wound to the head.
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We could very well be calling Fryberg a depressed sociopath with a bloodlust for a girl he felt an unnatural ownership over. Instead, we’re calling him the heartbroken Homecoming Prince. There is a lesson here for parents of girls and boys alike; this is what happens when you neglect to teach boys that the object of their affection isn’t their property. And the way that we are speaking about this murderous rampage is sending a message to young girls everywhere,
Don’t be the girl who drives the boy crazy – you may wind up dead. And no one will speak of you or your right to rebut his advances or choose whom you want to give your 14-year-old heart to. You’ll be a distant memory to most – but your killer’s name will live on as everyone grapples to figure out how he could possibly have done it? When in fact, it's the most obvious motive in the world. Women die at the hands of 'jilted' men at an alarming rate in this country. Ignoring the lesson parents should be learning here - to teach their children that people they like are not objects to be won or owned - is a grave mistake and makes the loss of these lives even more senseless.
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A quick glance at his Twitter account, and Fryberg’s motive becomes clear. He was depressed. He was jilted. He was also exhibiting traits of an emotionally abusive partner. After death, his Twitter feed is an eerie peek into a mind gripped by jealousy and rage. And the telling tweets and retweets date back months:
To everyone who says they didn't see it coming -- I disagree; this is textbook domestic violence - when it happens to kids it's called "teen dating violence." For one in five women who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, the first experience of some form of partner violence happened between 11 and 17 years of age.
This looks like the story of a girl who chose to love another boy, and a boy so filled with rage that he couldn't control her feelings that he killed her and her friends - his friends. I'm sorry for the parents who are grappling with the horror of losing a child this way -- I wouldn't wish this situation on my worst enemy. But I refuse to excuse Fryberg's actions or talk about his bright future or depression. He was a young man who killed a girl he couldn't control. That's how over 30% of female homicide victims over the age of twelve die in America. We need to talk to our kids about this. Now.
We have a huge problem in this country. It's exacerbated by easy access to guns, sure. But its root lies in the belief that women - or girls in this case - are not entitled to agency over their own bodies. All weekend, the same narrative kept playing out in the media - How did this happen? He was attractive. He was popular. He was happy. He was also the product of a society that teaches boys from a very young age that their female counterparts are not peers; they are trophies to be won. News story after news story keeps repeating the narrative that Jaylen was jilted and lovesick. But what about the girl whose life he ended? He believed she was "his." When she didn't return his affection - he killed her. This is not a new story. This is a story far too many women know. It's a narrative way too many women have lost their lives to.
"Only God knows what escalated this. Only God knows. Nobody pushed a button with bullying. It's just something that happened, and we don't know why," said Andrew Fryberg's grandfather when asked about the shooting. My heart goes out to this family and the unbelievably tragic situation they are dealing with. But, wrong. It's not something that "just happened." This was pre-meditated murder. The very definition of that means it's something that didn't "just happen." Now is not the time to ask How did this happen? It's the time to ask, Why does this keep happening and what can we do to stop it?
Our daughters deserve better. So do the 4,000 women who will die this year if we continue to turn a blind eye to the horrors of violence against women and repeatedly excuse men for violent behavior because of their poor, broken hearts.
This is a commentary on the media coverage surrounding the Marysville shooting. It is directly referencing the articles claiming Zoe Galasso and Jaylen Fryberg had a personal connection. Many commenters are saying they did not. It does not change the commentary or the importance of educating our children about the dangers of domestic violence. There have been no confirmed reports regarding motive.