TULALIP, Washington (AP) – A newly hired teacher confronted a student with a gun and was being hailed as a hero on Saturday after a deadly shooting rampage in the cafeteria of a Washington state high school.
First-year social studies teacher Megan Silberberger intervened in the attack Friday at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, teachers union president Randy Davis said.
The teacher intercepted the gunman as he paused, possibly to reload, student Erick Cervantes told KIRO-TV.
“I’m completely amazed by her actions and I feel for her,” Davis told The Associated Press. “I don’t know why she was in the cafeteria but I’m just grateful she was there.”
The attacker killed one female student on Friday and seriously wounded four others – including two of his cousins – before he died of what police said was a self-inflicted wound.
However, it wasn’t clear if the shooter committed suicide or if he accidentally shot himself in the struggle with the teacher.
A school resource officer also ran to the scene, Davis said.
The shooter was Jaylen Fryberg, a popular freshman at the school, a government official with direct knowledge of the shooting told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Students and parents said Fryberg was a member of a prominent family from the nearby Tulalip Indian tribes and a freshman who played on the high school football team. He was introduced at a football game as a prince in the 2014 Homecoming court.
Fryberg left months of troubling messages on social media, and friends said he’d recently been in a fight over a girl. One of his tweets said, “It breaks me … It actually does …”
The tight-knit Native American community on scenic Puget Sound struggled to cope with the tragedy.
Davis said he had spoken briefly with Silberberger, who was traumatised. The Marysville School District released a statement from her.
“While I am thankful and grateful for the support from everyone, at this time I am requesting privacy for myself and my family,” Silberberger said.
Students said the gunman stared at his victims as he fired. The shootings set off chaos as students ran outside in a frantic dash to safety, while others huddled inside classrooms.