Teddy bears, flowers and balloons were placed on a fence after the October 2014 shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School that left five students dead and wounded a sixth. (Ian Terry / Herald file)

Teddy bears, flowers and balloons were placed on a fence after the October 2014 shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School that left five students dead and wounded a sixth. (Ian Terry / Herald file)

New lawsuit: Marysville school could have prevented shooting

The plaintiff is a former student who escaped the 2014 mass murders at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

EVERETT — A former Marysville Pilchuck High School student is suing the district for what she claims was a preventable shooting that ended four young lives in 2014 as well as that of the student gunman.

Though she was physically unharmed, Carmen Lopez, who is now 20, suffered life-altering and severe emotional trauma and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint was filed last Friday in Snohomish County Superior Court. It asks for damages in an amount to be determined in court. Lopez is represented by attorneys with the law firm F. Barcus & Associates, based in Tacoma.

Marysville School District spokesperson Jodi Runyon said the district could not comment on pending litigation.

Lopez reportedly was one of the students Jaylen Fryberg had asked to sit at a table with him in the school cafeteria on Oct. 24, 2014. She was sitting next to him when he drew a handgun and opened fire.

Students Zoe Galasso, Gia Soriano, Shaylee Chuckulnaskit and Andrew Fryberg died in the gunfire, and Nate Hatch survived a gunshot wound to the jaw. Jaylen Fryberg took his own life after killing his friends.

Lopez was fortunate in one sense, according to the lawsuit, because Jaylen Fryberg began by shooting at those sitting across from him. As the gunshots rang out, Lopez dropped to the ground. Then she ran.

She first hid under a desk in the cashier’s office, then moved to a closet area, her attorneys wrote.

She thought Jaylen Fryberg would be coming after her.

“It was only when the police arrived, that she had any semblance of safety, and was thereafter escorted from her hiding place, clinging to a police officer in fear,” attorneys wrote.

The lawsuit claims the shooting was preventable, because the school allegedly knew two days ahead of time that it would happen, including the time it would take place. Moreover, the plaintiff alleges, Jaylen Fryberg displayed a number of troubling behaviors that should have alerted staff he would “engage in behaviors either deleterious to himself or others, including his fellow students at the high school.”

The lawsuit appears to share aspects with one the district settled in 2017 for $18 million, brought by the families of the students who died or were injured in the shooting.

In that case, the plaintiffs relied on the evolving story of a substitute teacher who claimed she had advance warning a shooting would occur.

The teacher told investigators she had shared the information with school staff and wrote a note. Detectives ultimately could find no merit to the story, even after they looked through trash bins in search of the supposed note, to no avail.

The new lawsuit does not reference the substitute teacher, nor does it identify how, exactly, the school could have known the shooting would take place.

The school district had not yet filed a response as of Thursday.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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