TULALIP — Nate Hatch’s brief wave meant everything.
It meant he survived. It meant he was home.
The 14-year-old Tulalip boy was released from a Seattle hospital Thursday, nearly two weeks after the Oct. 24 shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School. Tulalip police drove Nate back to the reservation, where more than 200 people gathered along Marine Drive to cheer and show support.
They shouted his name, a celebration of healing that Nate has come to symbolize.
The front passenger window of the black sport utility vehicle was rolled down just a few inches. The boy raised his left hand and waved.
“Truly, we want Nate to know he’s not alone in all this,” Tulalip Tribal Councilwoman Theresa Sheldon said.
As people on the reservation celebrated the return of a wounded son Thursday they also prepared to bury a beloved daughter. The school violence ended four young lives.
A funeral procession for Shaylee “Shay” Adelle Chuckulnaskit, 14, passed the same intersection on the reservation later in the afternoon, bringing her body to the Don Hatch Jr. Youth Center for an evening interfaith service. An obituary in The Daily Herald described Shay as an outgoing and confident athlete, with a silly side, a deep faith and a fighter’s spirit. Final ceremonies will take place Friday, and will conclude with her burial at Mission Beach Cemetery.
Zoe Raine Galasso and Gia Christine Soriano also were killed.
Andrew Fryberg, 15, remained in critical condition Thursday in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he’s been since the day of the shooting.
Nate was treated for a gunshot wound to the jaw. On Thursday, the Hatch family released a statement through Harborview, thanking the community for support and repeating a request for privacy while he recovers.
“We are grateful for the top-notch care Nate received from the team at Harborview Medical Center,” they wrote. “Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families who have been affected by this horrific tragedy.”
Nate was driven past the well-wishers on Marine Drive just before 1 p.m.
Those who gathered hoisted hand-painted posters and banners, despite the wind and rain. Young people donned Marysville Pilchuck T-shirts.
They were joined by visitors from the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota, where a school shooting occurred in 2005. The Little Thunderbirds, a family drum and dance group from Red Lake, sang pow wow songs for Nate, honoring his return. The group had traveled to the area to present a Native American dreamcatcher to the Marysville School District on Monday.
The dreamcatcher originally was given to Columbine High School near Denver and since has traveled to the Red Lake reservation, Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, and now Marysville Pilchuck.
The dreamcatcher is symbolic for those communities, linked by senseless violence and shared grief.
Those who awaited Nate’s arrival Thursday spoke of hope and healing.
“We are all excited that he is coming home,” said Tony Hatch, a Tulalip tribal member and Marysville Pilchuck assistant wrestling coach. “A lot of prayers have been answered. He’s still got a long way to go, but this is a glad day.”
The coaches would like Nate to return to the wrestling team next year, said Hatch, who helped organize the homecoming using email and Facebook. People who couldn’t come asked others to “scream louder for them,” he said.
“We wanted to let him know how much he is loved,” Hatch said.
Teachers also had walked over from nearby Quil Ceda Elementary.
Football teammate Kaleb Gobin, 16, held up a sign that read “Welcome home Nate.”
“I hope he heals up fast, and well,” Gobin said. “I hope everyone can come together now for healing.”
Funeral plans for Gia have not been made public. A memorial for Zoe was held last weekend.
The funeral for the shooter, 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg, was held on the reservation last week.
Now is a time for people to stand together, said Les Parks, the tribal vice chairman.
“For both the Tulalip and Marysville communities,” Parks said. “One community. Our community.”
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.