MARYSVILLE, Wash. – Families of four teens killed in a 2014 school shooting, as well as a fifth victim who was injured, are suing a substitute teacher for allegedly failing to notify school officials about a warning days prior.
The families of the victims allege substitute teacher Rosemary Cooper failed to notify officials when a student showed her a text message from the school shooter that said the student planned to kill himself. Two days later the student gathered five classmates in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria before shooting them and himself with a .40-caliber handgun, the Seattle Times reports.
Four 14-year-old students and a 15-year-old died in the shooting. A fifth, 15-year-old victim was shot in the face but survived.
During an investigation by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Cooper told detectives she reported the warning to the school’s front office and left a note for the teacher whose class she was covering. But the lawsuit, filed in Snohomish County Superior Court, alleges Cooper later told a different story to her therapists, and was “grief stricken” by the student deaths.
The Times reports:
Notes from two therapists Cooper saw in July 2016 indicate Cooper “was suffering from extreme guilt for never having passed along the student warning.”
One therapist wrote that Cooper was “feeling guilty that prior to the shooting … a student showed her a text message where the perpetrator had texted he was going to kill himself but the student said not to worry … and (Cooper) did not follow up with staff.”
Two days later, Cooper told another health provider that she had mentioned the message to someone in the attendance office and intended to go to the administration, but “did not feel she needed to make a report as she determined that since her students knew about this, so must everyone else,” according to portions of the reports contained in court pleadings.
Cooper, the therapist wrote, “is filled with regret that she did not specifically report what she heard, feeling if she did, there may have been another outcome.”
The families are suing Cooper as well as Raymond Fryberg, father of the shooter, Jaylen Fryberg, KIRO reports.
Raymond Fryberg was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for illegally buying the gun used in the shooting, and leaving it where his son could take it.
The lawsuit initially named the Marysville School District as a defendant, but later dropped the district from the case after the school board indemnified Cooper as a school employee covered by insurance, the families’ attorneys told the Times.
Cooper’s attorney, David Schoeggl, requested that his client be dismissed from the lawsuit because she allegedly made an effort to pass on the warning to school officials.
Both sides are expected to present their arguments on the motion to dismiss at a hearing scheduled for Friday, the Times reports.