MARYSVILLE, Oct 25 – A student opened fire in the cafeteria of a high school here on Friday, killing one female student and critically injuring four other students before killing himself, according to police officials.
The shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School forced hundreds of students to hide in classrooms and then, over a period of several hours, to be evacuated to a nearby church, where distraught parents, some of whom received text messages from their frightened children, rushed after the shooting. Inevitably, the shooting drew comparisons to other recent school shootings, including one in June at Seattle Pacific University.
“We had dreaded this day in this community,” said Dr. Joanne Roberts, chief medical officer at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. Dr. Roberts said that, because of what has happened elsewhere around the country, the hospital had planned for a possible school shooting, and that “we were prepared to handle these kids when they came here.”
A local police commander, Robb Lamoureux, would not identity the student who did the shooting, or what type of weapon he used; he would say only that that student “died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.” Dr. Roberts said that the four wounded students — two girls and two boys — who were being treated at hospitals suffered “very serious wounds” and were “critically ill.”
The two boys, ages 14 and 15, were transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle; one had been shot in the jaw, and the other in the head, she said. She said that the two girls were being treated at Providence for gunshot wounds to the head; one had emerged from surgery and the other was still in the operating room more than two hours after arriving at the hospital, she said.
As other students were being evacuated from the sprawling school, police officers swept the building to ensure there was no longer an active threat. Students were directed to the nearby Shoultes Gospel Hall to be reunited with their families. The police said they had asked about 30 students and staff members who witnessed the shooting to remain at the school for questioning.
Mr. Lamoureux said the shooting took place at 10:39 a.m., and that the police were notified moments later.. Austen James, a 16-year-old junior, said he was in art class when an alarm sounded alerting students to an emergency; he said students instinctively rushed into the halls, but were ordered back into classrooms by teachers shouting that the alarm was not a drill.
The students had practiced for a lockdown, and they got on the ground as they holed up in their classrooms, in many cases for more than two hours, exchanging texts with other students about what was happening while waiting for the police to tell them it was safe to leave.