Shooting claims another life; Marysville stands together in grief

Update, 8:45 a.m. Monday: Nate Hatch, 14, has been upgraded to satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center. The hospital reports he is awake and breathing on his own. Andrew Fryberg, 15, remains in critical condition in intensive care.

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MARYSVILLE — Freshman Gia Soriano died Sunday, two days after being shot in the head during lunch in a cafeteria at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

The death of Soriano, 14, a girl who had dark hair, dark eyes and a bright smile, brings to three the grim toll of Friday’s trauma, in which Jaylen Fryberg shot five of his classmates. He is among the dead. Zoe Raine Galasso, 14, was killed during the shooting.

“Gia Soriano, 14, passed away about 15 minutes ago as a result of her injuries suffered on Friday,” said Dr. Joanne Roberts, chief medical officer at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.

Reading a statement from the girl’s family, Roberts continued. “We decided to donate Gia’s organs so that others may benefit.” The family also asked for time to grieve.

Three teens remained in area hospitals with life-threatening head wounds. Andrew Fryberg, 15, was in critical condition in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center. Nate Hatch, 14, was also there, in serious but improving condition. The boys are cousins of the shooter. Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, 14, remained in critical condition at Providence.

The news came about eight hours after parents, students, staff and community leaders gathered in the MPHS gymnasium for the first time since the shooting.

“This is a tough day and we’ve got a few more ahead of us,” Marysville schools superintendent Becky Berg said, addressing the crowd.

The community meeting was a vigil for the extended Marysville and Tulalip community, with hundreds of people packing the bleachers. Students who hadn’t seen each other since Friday hugged and shed tears. Parents waited apprehensively and talked with their neighbors. No one knew what to expect in the days and weeks to come.

Police Chief Rick Smith and other officers in the room received a standing ovation, with Tulalip leaders raising their hands in respect.

“Today is about our kids, moving forward, answering questions if we can, and making sure all of us can feel safe and secure,” Berg said.

“A tragedy like this can tear us apart or draw us closer together. What happens to one child affects all children. What affects one community affects all communities,” she said.

Tulalip councilwoman Deborah Parker spoke on behalf of the tribal leadership.

“We know our hearts are heavy, we know our communities are wondering what has taken place, but most of all I want to thank all those who are stepping up to say, ‘I’m with you,’” said Parker, who is both an alumna of Marysville Pilchuck and the mother of a current student.

“We’ll stand behind you to make sure we’ll all stand strong and united as one family.”

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring reminded the students that they are all loved, and that adults are there to listen to them and support them. “That may sound corny, but you need to hear it,” Nehring said.

“If you need to talk to an adult, find somebody,” he said, “and if that person doesn’t listen, find somebody else and keep going until someone pays attention. We owe that to you.”

Before the program, parents said they were seeking guidance.

Parent Brandi Mendez wanted to understand how to help her family work through what happened. “How can we recover from this?” Mendez said. “How can we support the children? What are the right things to say to them?”

Bill Kennedy, whose son Jack attends Arts and Tech High in Tulalip, wanted to hear how the district was going to both ensure the kids’ safety, without upsetting their lives even more.

“Sometimes there’s a knee-jerk reaction, to lock down the kids,” Kennedy said. “Truncating the ability of the kids to have a good high school experience doesn’t help. I’m hoping they talk more about healing, and not control.”

Other parents just wanted accurate information. Misty Creel was hoping the district would clear up the rumors circulating online about which of the victims were still alive and which, if any, had died.

“There’s a lot of contamination online,” Creel said.

Marge Martin, executive director of Victim Support Services in Everett, was on hand to let people know about their free services, which include counseling, and their 24-hour crisis line, at 800-346-7555.

The school district is doing the right thing by bringing the entire community together to grieve, Martin said.

“I’m hopeful this will continue the conversation of getting their collective arms around the kids and supporting them,” she said.

There will be no classes at Marysville Pilchuck this week.

But starting Tuesday, the gymnasium will be opened as a drop-in center for the school’s 1,200 students, with grief counselors and other staff on hand to help. Information is posted on the district’s website, www.msvl.k12.wa.us.

Classes will still be held in other district schools, although the schools will respect what families feel they need to do over the next few days, Berg said.

Though Marysville Pilchuck High School is closed this week, Marysville police plan to increase their presence in the city’s other schools, the department announced Sunday evening. This includes assigning officers to high schools and having random drop-in visits at elementary schools.

Local churches are also opening their doors for students and families this week. And the Marysville Family YMCA is welcoming all MPHS students with an ID, to provide them a place to gather. The YMCA’s Youth Development Center will also open at 11 a.m. all week.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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