The father of Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooter Jaylen Fryberg has been charged in federal court with buying the handgun that the 15-year-old boy used to kill four classmates and himself.

Share story

A 2002 restraining order that should have prevented the father of Jaylen Fryberg from purchasing the handgun his son used to kill four schoolmates and himself at Marysville-Pilchuck High School apparently was never entered into a federal criminal background database, according to state and tribal officials.

A complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle alleges Raymond Lee Fryberg Jr. was the subject of a permanent Tulalip Tribal Court domestic-violence restraining order when he purchased the .40-caliber Beretta handgun in January 2013 from a Cabela’s sporting-goods store on the reservation.

Jaylen Fryberg, 15, used that handgun on Oct. 24, 2014, to shoot five classmates seated at a cafeteria table before turning the gun on himself. Only one teen survived.

“At the time of the purchase, [Raymond] Fryberg was the subject of a permanent protection order that prohibits him from possessing firearms,” according to a Department of Justice news release. The complaint alleges that he lied on the instant background-check form when he bought the handgun.

However, that restraining order would not have shown up when Cabela’s contacted the FBI to conduct an instant background check when Raymond Fryberg purchased the weapon, because it was apparently never entered into the state or national databases on which those background checks rely, said Heather Anderson, the section chief of the Washington State Patrol’s Criminal Records Division.

Anderson said that, at the time, such reporting was “very encouraged” but not mandated and likely would have been done through the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

Tribal spokeswoman Francesca Hillery said it was her understanding that there was “no protocol at the time for ensuring that information was passed on to the national databases.”

Shari Ireton, spokeswoman for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, said her office is trying to figure out why the information was not entered into the national database.

The complaint alleges the senior Fryberg hid the existence of the restraining order by lying on the background-check paperwork when he bought the gun.

Fryberg was arrested Tuesday and appeared that afternoon for a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

He was ordered to remain in custody until he appears for a detention hearing on Thursday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida set a preliminary hearing for April 14, which will be held only if Fryberg is not indicted by a federal grand jury before then.

If convicted, he could face 10 years in federal prison.

The complaint alleges that the senior Fryberg assaulted and threatened his then-girlfriend and mother of one of his children in 2002, resulting in the permanent restraining order.

In September 2012, he pleaded no contest to violating the restraining order, according to the complaint. He was fined $2,500, of which $2,300 was suspended, and also received a suspended 180-day jail term, according to the complaint. He was placed on probation for a year.

At the time, according to federal prosecutors, he signed a document acknowledging he was not supposed to have a firearm.

Four months later, the complaint says, Raymond Fryberg went to the Cabela’s on the Tulalip Reservation and bought the Beretta handgun. When filling out a federal firearms purchase form used to conduct background checks, the complaint alleges, Raymond Fryberg lied on the portion that asked if he was the subject of a restraining order.

Over the next several months, he also purchased several other firearms, the complaint alleges.

Cabela’s issued the following statement Tuesday: “Cabela’s strictly complies with federal, state and local laws regulating the sale of firearms. Cabela’s records indicate the transaction was processed in compliance with applicable regulations, including background checks.”

The federal complaint says a Cabela’s employee, Jacob Bruns, later told investigators that he recognized Fryberg’s name from news of the school shooting and suspected the Beretta had been used in the crime.

After the Marysville-Pilchuck shooting, police searched the Fryberg home and found a large gun safe in Jaylen Fryberg’s room. However, at the time they did not know his father was restricted from firearms possession and “did not look inside the locked gun safe,” according to the complaint filed Monday.

Jaylen Fryberg fatally shot four friends he had invited to lunch and wounded a fifth teen before killing himself.

The teens who died were Gia Soriano, Zoe Galasso and Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, all 14, and Andrew Fryberg, 15. All were shot in the head. Nate Hatch, 15, was shot in the jaw and is recovering. Andrew Fryberg and Hatch are Jaylen Fryberg’s cousins.

Moments before the shooting, Jaylen Fryberg texted more than a dozen relatives, describing what he wanted to wear at his funeral and who should get his personal possessions, a detective’s search-warrant affidavit said.

Jaylen Fryberg asked relatives to apologize to the families of his friends “who get caught up in the (expletive) tomorrow” — referring to the day after the shooting. He also had sent texts in the previous days to a female friend talking about his death and funeral.

Alan Gottlieb, a pro-gun author, publisher and president of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, seized on Fryberg’s arrest to claim the state’s efforts to enforce universal background checks for all firearms sales, driven by the passage of Initiative 594, are not foolproof.

“Penalizing all law-abiding gun owners because a system is flawed does not prevent crime from happening, nor does it keep the wrong people from getting their hands on guns,” Gott­lieb said in a statement.

State Sen. John McCoy, a member of the Tulalip Tribes, told The Associated Press he didn’t know Raymond Lee Fryberg Jr. had been subject to a restraining order.

“That’s exceptionally troublesome to me,” McCoy said. “It points me to the issue we’ve been arguing about in the state, that people are not going to tell the truth when they fill out the forms to buy a gun, so maybe we should have a registry of people who are subject to these orders. That’ll be more fodder for discussion.”

Tulalip Tribes Chairman Herman Williams Sr. said in a statement that the Tulalip Police Department continues to coordinate with federal authorities, but he did not comment on the active investigation.

The Frybergs are a prominent Tulalip family of more than 600 people who live on or near the Tulalip Reservation.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be focused on the victims, their families and the healing of our community impacted by the Marysville-Pilchuck shooting,” Williams said.