Raymond Lee Fryberg Jr. was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of supervision afterward for illegally possessing six guns, including the .40-caliber pistol used by his teenage son, who shot and killed four classmates at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in 2014.
Raymond Lee Fryberg Jr. was sentenced to two years in prison Monday for illegally purchasing and possessing six guns, including a pistol his son used to kill four classmates, wound a fifth and then kill himself at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in 2014.
Fryberg, 42, remained defiant in his belief that he did not know he was breaking the law, although U.S. District Judge James Robart said he didn’t believe it, and a jury had convicted him of six felonies.
But Fryberg also publicly apologized for the first time for the actions of his eldest son, 15-year-old Jaylen, and acknowledged the killings had broken him and divided the Tulalip Tribes, where prosecutors said many members — including some of Fryberg’s own kin — consider him an arrogant, violent bully.
“I wake up with the same broken heart every day,” Fryberg told the judge in a packed U.S. District courtroom. “I am sorry for what my son did. I don’t condone any of the things my son did. It’s a tragedy. But, you know, here we are.”
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Fryberg and his attorneys had asked the court to impose only probation so he could be with his other three children. Fryberg’s lawyer, John Henry Browne, said he plans to appeal the conviction and the sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ye-Ting Woo had urged the judge to impose a 33-month sentence — the top end of the federal sentencing guideline for the crime — and said she thought about asking for an exceptional sentence because of the horrific consequences of his repeated violations of federal firearms laws.
Woo said those laws are designed to “ensure firearms don’t end up in the wrong hands.
“This time, firearms did end up in the wrong hands,” she said.
A grand jury indicted Fryberg last spring for lying on federal firearms forms by not acknowledging he was the subject of a tribal domestic-violence protective order, which would have made him ineligible to buy a gun.
The order was issued after Fryberg assaulted his girlfriend in 2002. In 2012, Fryberg pleaded no contest in tribal court for violating the order.
In the interim, court records show, Fryberg bought at least 10 guns, each time filling out a form and checking the “no” box when asked about a protective order. He also passed multiple FBI background checks — including one for a concealed-carry permit — because of a glitch in the tribal domestic-violence reporting system that the Department of Justice says it is now trying to fix.
According to prosecutors, Jaylen Fryberg used a .40-caliber Beretta handgun his father had purchased illegally to shoot and kill four classmates and then kill himself in a high-school cafeteria on Oct. 24, 2014. Killed were Gia Soriano, Zoe Gallaso, Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, all 14, and Andrew Fryberg, 15. A fifth, Nate Hatch, 15, was seriously wounded.
While acknowledging that Raymond Fryberg wasn’t on trial for those killings, Woo nonetheless urged the court to consider the consequences of his repeated firearms-law violations.
“But for his unlawful possession of that Beretta handgun … these families would not have lost their children,” she told the judge.
Prosecutors read from several letters from family and tribal members that had been filed under seal, including victim-impact statements from the families of the dead children. They painted a starkly different picture of Fryberg from the dozens of letters of support for Fryberg filed by his defense attorneys.
“Mr. Fryberg has painted a picture of himself, which is only one belief of many that people in that community hold,” Woo told the court.
Browne, the defense attorney, argued against the public reading of those letters, saying “nobody in this room is more remorseful about what happened than Mr. Fryberg.”
“There are people who deeply care about Mr. Fryberg, and Mr. Fryberg deeply cares about the tribe,” he said.
Woo, quoting from a letter written by the mother of Andrew Fryberg, said “Ray Fryberg Junior doesn’t care about the law.’
“We are broken as a family,” Woo said, quoting the letter. “We are incomplete.”
A number of tribal members complained that Raymond Fryberg had never apologized. He addressed that issued Monday, explaining that he had been told by his attorneys to avoid families of the dead and injured students.
Those families filed a $110 million lawsuit against Fryberg and the school district last week.
Robart, in imposing the two-year sentence — which was just below the guideline range — said he would not punish the father for the actions of the son and acknowledged his grief.
Robart said it was obvious that “Mr. Fryberg is in great pain.”
However, he concluded that Fryberg was “in denial” about the protective order, which Fryberg himself said he considered an “in-house” issue, meaning it only impacted his tribal life and had no meaning off the reservation. It was arrogance — not a mistake — that led Fryberg to repeatedly lie on gun-purchase forms, the judge concluded.