It appears to be a given: Whenever there’s a school shooting, we immediately hear about how the perpetrator was an outcast who had few friends and struggled to fit in. But the gunman who killed one girl and wounded four others before taking his own life in a high school cafeteria north of Seattle had a completely different life story: Jaylen Fryber was a well-liked freshman who had been named homecoming prince earlier this month, reports the Seattle Times.
“I don’t get it. It’s hard to understand,” Jaden Worthington, 14, who was on wrestling and football teams with Fryberg, tells the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “He seemed happy.”
A video posted on YouTube shows Fryber being introduced on the football field as he was wearing a “homecoming royalty” sash.
Fryberg also did not appear to choose his victims at random, as two of his cousins were among the wounded, notes USA Today. The grandfather of one of the wounded victims says that Fryber was also close friends with the others he shot, noting the group had gone to prom together. It isn’t clear what caused him to open fire on the people he knew, but one student says Fryberg was angry about a romantic relationship that had gone south. Another student says he had been temporarily suspended from the football team after beating up a team member. Fryberg’s Twitter account appears to suggest he was going through a period of anguish and heartbreak.
The tragedy could apparently have been much worse if it wasn’t for a cafeteria worker who tried to intervene in the attack, according to the Associated Press. Earlier, a student had told KIRO-TV that a woman whom he believed to be the “lunch lady”—whom the station later identified as a teacher—confronted Fryberg while he was shooting.