Shooting in Pacific Northwest hits close to home

By Chris Mudd, Staff Writer

Up until Oct. 24, telling someone where I came from would be no big deal. The town of Marysville, Washington, had no stigmas attached to it. It was just my home. A home I didn’t necessarily praise, but my home nonetheless.

I spent most of my life in Marysville. I would spend summers camping in nearby Oso, which has suffered more than its fair share of tragedy recently as well. My K-12 education was through the Marysville School District and I graduated from Marysville Pilchuck High School in 2008.

It was never hard to point out problems with the town. I’d walk through some pretty terrible neighborhoods on the way to school, and there were enough fights on the way home to really set in stone the idea that a weak person doesn’t really get far there without some pretty solid escape routes.

It was a small city for the first half of my life, sitting somewhere comfortably between the template of the everyday farming town and the local fishing port. Of course, when the big, bad Wal-Mart rolled into town in the early 2000s, we started to expand pretty quick, for better or worse. The mall and the resort casino followed and before long Marysville was a booming city, not a town.

Now, I don’t say these things to ramble. Marysville is a city full of people who live just like we do. They eat. They have holidays. They have goals. They are no different from people here, or any town on the planet.

Four of those people have died.

The shooter opened fire upon a lunch table where his friends sat eating lunch on Oct. 24, striking most of them in the head.

There’s nothing quite like seeing your old stomping grounds next to the theatre building in aerial coverage as students and faculty you remember flee for their lives.

We don’t have enough facts yet to know why the shooting took place. And frankly, now is not the time for that. The police are investigating; to insinuate that we know the real cause is ignorant and irresponsible.

This is not as simple as gun laws or the mental health system in America. It’s a complicated and difficult issue to grasp. Something does need to change, but now is not the time to be pointing fingers at one thing in particular. As Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith said, “It’s time for us to act and not talk anymore.”

The families and the community are the priority. I will not accept the media blitz to blame one thing or another when the only town that’s ever really harbored me just got kicked in the teeth.

While more information comes out, we are going to have to ask ourselves some difficult questions. What needs to change, or perhaps even more frightening, could we have done anything different? Time will tell.

Gia Soriano was 14. Zoe Galasso was 14. Shaylee Chuckulnaskit was 14. Jaylen Fryberg was 15. Andrew Fryberg was shot, but is recovering. Every single one of them had a family.

The community has come together in ways I’ve never thought I’d see. Evil may or may not exist, but in whatever form it shows its face, humanity has once again proven that in a time of crisis, we face it.

For the first time, I’m proud of Marysville.