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Washington School Shooter Was a Popular Football Player

10/25/2014 AT 11:35 AM EDT

Jaylen Fryberg was well liked and athletic, a football player named to his high school’s homecoming court just one week ago.

He was also facing problems, writing of some unspecified troubles on his Twitter feed: “It breaks me … It actually does … “

The popular Marysville-Pilchuck High School freshman opened fire in the school’s cafeteria late Friday morning, a government official with direct knowledge of the shooting told the Associated Press.

One girl was killed and four other young people – including two of the gunman’s cousins – were badly wounded before Fryberg fatally shot himself, witnesses, police and relatives said.

His motives remained unclear. Some students described Fryberg as happy and social, even though he had recently fought with a boy over a girl.

Shaylee Bass, a 15-year-old sophomore, said he remained upset about that, but she was stunned by the shooting.

“He was not a violent person,” she said. “His family is known all around town. He was very well known. That’s what makes it so bizarre.”

Students said the gunman stared at his victims as he fired. The shootings set off a chaotic scene as students ran from the cafeteria and building in a frantic dash to safety, while others huddled inside classrooms at the school 30 miles north of Seattle.

Marysville police declined to release the shooter’s identity, with Chief Rick Smith insisting he did not want to “dramatize someone who perpetuated a violent crime in a place where children should feel safe.”

But many students identified Fryberg as the gunman, and the identity was confirmed to AP by a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Students and parents said Fryberg was a member of a prominent family from the nearby Tulalip Indian tribes and was a freshman football player. A week ago, he stood on the high school track during the team’s homecoming game in a vest, tie and white sash as he was introduced as a prince, according to a video recorded by parent Jim McGauhey.

Marysville Police Commander Robb Lamoureux said the gunman died of a self-inflicted wound, but he could not provide more details.

Victims Fight for Their Lives

Three of the victims had head wounds and were in critical condition. Two unidentified young women were at Providence Everett Medical Center, and 15-year-old Andrew Fryberg was at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, a hospital official said.

Another victim, 14-year-old Nate Hatch, was listed in serious condition at Harborview, the hospital said. Family members told KIRO-TV that Andrew Fryberg and Hatch are cousins of Jaylen Fryberg.

Scene of Terror

Witnesses described the shooter as methodical inside the cafeteria.

Isabella MacKeige, 18, was having lunch with a friend when the suddenly heard gunshots behind them.

“I heard six shots go off and I turned and saw people diving under the tables,” she told AP. “In my brain I thought ‘run!’ So I left my backpack, my phone and my purse and got out the door as fast as I could.”

Some students got hurt when they tripped and fell in the chaos, she said. They ran across an open field to the fence that circles the schoolyard and climbed over.

A crowd of parents later waited in a parking lot outside a nearby church where they were reunited with their children.

Fryberg’s Twitter feed suggested he was struggling with an unidentified problem.

On Wednesday, a posting read: “It won’t last … It’ll never last.” On Monday, another said: “I should have listened. … You were right … The whole time you were right.”

Native American Community Mourns

Marysville-Pilchuck High School has a number of students from the Tulalip Indian tribes.

Ron Iukes, a youth counselor with the tribe, said Jaylen Fryberg was from a well-known tribal family.

“They’re real good people, very loving,” he said. “Jaylen was one of our good kids.”

State Sen. John McCoy, a tribal member, said the tribal community was devastated. “We’re all related in one shape or form,” he said. “We live and work and play together.”

Hundreds of people prayed and sang songs at a church vigil Friday night for victims and family members.

The Oak Harbor high school football team, which had been set to play Marysville Friday night, lined the front row of Grove Church in their purple jerseys. The game was canceled and Oak Harbor offered to give the win to Marysville.

Pastor Nik Baumgart told the overflow crowd there was no script for reacting to Friday’s events.

“One moment we’re thinking, ‘We can do this,’ ” Baumgart said. “Another moment, we’re thinking, ‘How can we do this?’ “

Washington School Shooter Was a Popular Football Player
Source: Washington School Shooter Was a Popular Football Player

7 Students Charged in Wake of New Jersey High School Football Hazing Allegations

7 Students Charged in Wake of New Jersey High School Football Hazing Allegations

Sayreville War Memorial High School

Mel Evans/AP

10/11/2014 AT 01:50 PM EDT

Seven students were charged with sex crimes in connection with a series of assaults amid an investigation into hazing by a high school football team, which already led to the cancellation of the rest of the season, authorities said.

Six of the seven students, ranging in age from 15 to 17, were arrested Friday night, and the seventh was being sought, police and prosecutors said.

The group attacked four students at Sayreville War Memorial High School, a regional football power, on four separate occasions between Sept. 19 and Sept. 29, authorities said. Their investigation found that the students held other teens against their will and improperly touched them in a sexual manner. One of the victims was kicked during an attack, authorities said.

Three of the students were charged with aggravated sexual assault, criminal restraint, hazing and other crimes for an act of sexual penetration upon one of the children, Middlesex County prosecutor Andrew C. Carey said. The four other students were charged with aggravated criminal sexual contact and other crimes.

Those in custody were awaiting a Family Court decision on whether they would be held at a juvenile detention facility or be released to their families. Their names weren’t released because of their ages.

On Friday evening, at what would have been game time as the planned homecoming night neared, the lights at Sayreville War Memorial High football stadium stayed off and the field remained empty.

Four days earlier, Superintendent Richard Labbe announced he was canceling the rest of the season after the prosecutor’s office substantiated allegations of hazing involving members of the school’s football team.

Parents in the township have complained that the whole team is being punished. The team, the Bombers, has won three sectional titles over four years.

Labbe has stood by his decision and said the time has come for students and others to step forward when bullying occurs. He said Friday the district has launched a harassment, intimidation and bullying investigation of all its athletic teams.

“In the ensuing days, weeks and months,” he said in a statement, “we will come together as a school district and greater community to harness the strength required to support the young men who may have been victimized and then to begin the healing process for our beloved community.”

Sayreville, the hometown of rocker Jon Bon Jovi, who graduated from the high school, sits next to the Raritan River and just inland from the Raritan Bay, site of devastating flooding from Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. Football was a constant through the storm’s aftermath, and news of the season’s cancellation hit students hard.

7 Students Charged in Wake of New Jersey High School Football Hazing Allegations

The Sayreville Board of Education at a press conference Monday

Mark R. Sullivan / Home News Tribune / AP

Gov. Chris Christie expressed outrage Thursday at the allegations and told reporters in Trenton that, as a father of four, he was especially appalled.

“The facts as reported currently are extraordinarily disturbing and, as the father of a number of teenage athletes, the idea that that kind of conduct could be permitted, if it’s true … in a high school athletics program, or anywhere else in our state for that matter, is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

Residents describe the Sayreville borough as a hardworking, diverse place geared toward football. They say the Middlesex County borough of about 43,000 people is a great place to raise kids.

“Everything revolves around getting the kids ready to play Bomber football,” Cary Melendez, who has been living in Sayreville a few years, said outside her house.

At John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, across the street from the school, Matt Norcross said football is a large part of the town’s identity.

“It’s hard to get here on Friday nights” because the games generate so much traffic, the South Amboy man said as his 12-year-old stepson participated in football practice on a nearby field.

An anti-bullying rally has been scheduled for Sunday night in Kennedy Park. Holly Emory, whose son plays on the football team, said parents have asked those attending not to wear Bombers gear so they don’t “pour salt in the wound.”

7 Students Charged in Wake of New Jersey High School Football Hazing Allegations
Source: 7 Students Charged in Wake of New Jersey High School Football Hazing Allegations

Three High School Football Players Die in One Week

Three High School Football Players Die in One Week

Tom Cutinella, Demario Harris and Isaiah Langston

Courtesy Tom Cutinella; Courtesy Demario Harris; Courtesy Isaiah Langston

Several hundred people assembled on a crowded football field in Elwood New York on Thursday evening, greeting each other with handshakes and hugs. Many of them wore football jerseys and team colors of Shoreham-Wading River High School.

But this was not a joyous crowd gathering to cheer on their favorite team. They were there to celebrate the short life of Tom Cutinella, a 16-year-old student who had died on the same field just 24 hours earlier.

The sudden death wasn’t the first one on the gridiron this week. Two other students died while playing high school football in the past seven days, raising questions about the sport’s safety and prompting schools across America to take special precautions to keep their players safe.

Tom Cutinella

According to reports, Cutinella had collided with an opponent during a game on Wednesday night. Although he initially stood up after the collision, he quickly collapsed. He was transported to the hospital where he later died of his injuries.

“It was the result of a typical football play,” Superintendent Steven Cohen told reporters. “It was just a freak accident. He was beloved by everyone who knew him and touched everyone in this community very deeply.”

When asked by a reporter whether Cutinella had sustained a concussion, he said it was not the right time to discuss it. “Right now, our focus is really on the suffering that Tom’s family and this community is going through,” he said.

Demario Harris

More than 1,100 miles away, a similar tragedy had occurred on a football field in Troy, Alabama. On Sunday, Demario Harris died in a hospital room, just two days after making a tackle in a football game for Charles Henderson High School.

Like Cutinella, he initially walked back to the huddle, but then collapsed on the field. The school claimed in a press conference that Harris died of an aneurysm, but his father, Demario Harris Sr. disputed it on Facebook.

“My family and me are dealing with a rough situation and we appreciate everyone’s well wishes and prayers,” he wrote. “And contrary to various media reports, my son had a brain hemorrhage, not an aneurysm, that was caused by a hit he took during Friday’s game. He may have had a pre-existing condition, but there is no way to tell now. Anyway, I want everybody to celebrate my son’s life and remember him as the wonderful person he was.”

Harris was a standout defensive back who was being heavily recruited by several colleges.

Isaiah Langston

On Sept. 26, Isaiah Langston, a 17-year-old linebacker at Rolesville High School in Rolesville, North Carolina, collapsed on the field before a game. Although he had gone through team warmups, he had not yet made a play on the field.

The official cause of death is unknown, but his brother, Aijalon Langston, told ABC11 that his collapse “had something to do with a blood clot on his brain.”

Is Football Safe?

With three young lives cut short in a week, parents have raised the inevitable question of football safety. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, about 1.3 million high schoolers participate in organized football every year. Last year eight high schoolers died playing football, according to UNC Chapel Hill study.

In January, Mississippi became the final state to establish protocols for preventing, identifying and treating concussions sustained during practices and games. Although the laws vary, all 50 states have now implemented safeguards to make high school football safer since 2009.

To better understand the impact of a hard tackle, researchers at UNC and Wake Forest University are studying results from sensors in helmets. “Players experience many more impacts during practice than they do in games,” said Wake Forest Baptist Health professor Joel Stitzel. “We’ve found that a half to two-thirds of injuries are sustained in practice.”

As experts study the safety of football, friends and families continue to mourn the loss of the three boys who died this week. “I felt like he wasn’t just my brother,” said Isaiah Langston’s older brother, Aijalon. “He was most people’s – he was their brother, too, their friend, a shoulder they could lean on.”

Three High School Football Players Die in One Week
Source: Three High School Football Players Die in One Week

On Football Sunday, Our Eyes Are on the Fabulous NFL Wife Jessie James Decker

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Jessie James Decker is pint-sized and fabulous. We fell in love with the Southern belle on the E! series, Eric & Jessie: Game On, and have seen how the unapologetic country singer has come to have it all: a gorgeous NFL husband (New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker), a beautiful baby daughter, a successful music career, and burgeoning beauty and clothing lines. But it wasn’t always easy. VH1 recently sat down with the New York transplant — who still likes going to Cracker Barrel — and learned the story of a simple country gal who rose to fame.

Allow us to help you get a peak into Jessie’s world and see what she has to say about the ups and downs of being married to a professional athlete and letting the cameras into her everyday life.

VH1: Were you a big football fan before you started dating Eric?
I wasn’t the biggest fan because I grew up in so many different places; I never was really able to attach myself to a team, but as soon as I started dating Eric I immediately was asking every question that you could imagine. Even the most annoying, like: “What happens if all three quarterbacks get injured? Who goes in?! What do you do?”

What are the pros and cons of being married to an NFL player?
I think the pros are everything — it is so much fun to be a part of something so exciting. And I’m impressed by him every time he’s on the field. He’s such an athlete and God gave him talent and he works his butt off. The con: You never want to see your loved one get hurt. That would be so scary, right?

On Football Sunday, Our Eyes Are on the Fabulous NFL Wife Jessie James Decker

[Photo Credit: @jessiejamesdecker]

What’s your favorite New York City activity?
What is not my favorite thing to do here?! The food, the shopping, I mean we’ve already seen a show. Everything is incredible and I feel so blessed to be here.

I feel like people from New York City get a bad reputation, don’t you think?
I never heard about a bad reputation, [but New Yorkers] tell it like it is and I actually like that. I don’t want anything sugarcoated – tell it to my face, tell it to me straight.

How are you adjusting from previously living in Denver?
For me, it was actually an adjustment to go to Denver. Being from the South, I was like a fish out of water in Denver. I was familiar with New York because I was signed to Island Def Jam, so I came here all the time. I was excited to come back in a way even though I never lived here. The people are incredible. It just feels like everything is meant to be. We love everything about this city.

You and Eric have what seems like such a solid, grounded relationship. What’s your love advice for the average person?
I would never, ever settle. That is my biggest thing and I always say it. I’ve seen so many friends of mine who are on the verge of divorce now because they just got married like, “Well, he’ll do.” You will end up in divorce. You need to marry someone that is your soul mate, that you’re obsessed with, and never ignore that. People make fun of me all the time. They’re like, “Not everything’s gonna be perfect,” well it is in my world. And it should be. Because you deserve it.

Source: On Football Sunday, Our Eyes Are on the Fabulous NFL Wife Jessie James Decker


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