Former Washington State Student Sues School District Over Mass Shooting

August 26, 2020

A former student at a high school in Washington state who survived a school shooting is suing the district for what she claims was a preventable attack.

The mass shooting killed four students and the gunman in 2014.

Carmen Lopez, 20, filed the lawsuit in Snohomish County Superior Court. She said in her lawsuit that she has since suffered life-altering emotional trauma and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident. She was not physically harmed during the shooting.

Marysville School District spokesperson Jodi Runyon said the district could not comment on pending litigation, The Daily Herald reported.

Jaylen Fryberg opened fire on students in the Marysville Pilchuck High School cafeteria, a school located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Seattle.

Students Zoe Galasso, Gia Soriano, Shaylee Chuckulnaskit and Andrew Fryberg died in the gunfire, and another student, Nate Hatch, survived a gunshot wound to the jaw. Fryberg died by suicide afterwards.

Lopez said that she was sitting at the same table as the victims and Fryberg when the shooting began. She said she was fortunate because he began by shooting those sitting across from him while she was sitting beside him. As the shooting began, Lopez dropped to the ground then ran away.

The lawsuit claims the shooting was preventable because the school allegedly knew two days before that it would happen. Lopez alleges Fryberg had a pattern of worrisome behavior that should have alerted faculty members that 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 brought by the families of the students who died or were injured in the shooting. The district settled that case in 2017 for $18 million.

Plaintiffs in that case relied on the evolving story of a substitute teacher who claimed she had advanced warning about a potential shooting.

The teacher told investigators she had shared the information with school staff. Detectives ultimately could find no merit to the story.

The new lawsuit does not reference the substitute teacher, nor does it identify how the school knew beforehand that the shooting would take place.

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