WSP: Fryberg bought gun illegally thanks to lack of reporting from tribal court

Apr 1, 2015, 2:32 PM | Updated: Apr 2, 2015, 10:36 am
In the case of Raymond Fryberg, Jr.’s restraining order, authorities said the Tulalip Tribal ...
In the case of Raymond Fryberg, Jr.'s restraining order, authorities said the Tulalip Tribal courts did not send notice to the Snohomish County Superior Court. (AP)

The gun 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg used to kill four classmates and himself at Marysville Pilchuck High School last year was bought illegally by his father, according to federal charges.

Raymond Lee Fryberg Jr. purchased the Beretta handgun at the Tulalip Cabela’s sporting goods store in January 2013, even though he had a restraining order from a former girlfriend that should have prevented him from buying a firearm.

Cabela’s ran a background check before selling Fryberg the .40 caliber gun. But the Tulalip court protection order did not show up in the National Instant Criminal Background Check database, and the purchase was approved.

Heather Anderson, with the Washington State Patrol Criminal Records Division, said all arrest information should be submitted to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) within 72 hours. That way, if a person is convicted of a crime, a record would be available for other law enforcement agencies to find on an NCIC check.

Ideally, tribal courts would send domestic violence protection orders to the county’s Superior Court. The Superior Court would issue the order and give it to the sheriff, who would enter that information into NCIC.

But, Anderson said, this information sharing is optional for tribal courts. Tribes are not required to report court orders to state or federal authorities.

“There’s hardly any that are providing information into our criminal history system via finger prints,” Anderson said.

“If the information isn’t entered into the system, then it’s not available.”

In the case of Raymond Fryberg, Jr.’s restraining order, Anderson said the Tulalip Tribal courts did not send notice to the Snohomish County Superior Court.

“When the background check was done, there was nothing to flag and create any type of denial,” Anderson confirmed.

Tulalip Tribal spokeswoman Francesca Hillery told The Seattle Times she believes there was “no protocol at the time for ensuring that information was passed on to the national databases.”

However, a section of Tulalip tribal law does address the issue.

Robert Anderson, Director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington School of Law, said he actually found the Tulalip tribal domestic violence code, which has a provision that any protection order must be served on the county court or sheriff.

“Indian tribes have been recognized from the outset – at the time of the constitution – as separate sovereigns with inherent powers of self government,” Anderson said. “(They are) powers that are not granted to them by the federal government, but are possessed by the tribes because they were the original governments and occupants of the soil.”

KIRO Radio has reached out to the Tulalip tribe for more explanation.

Beginning in the 2000s, Anderson said the Washington State Patrol began doing outreach to improve communication with tribal courts.

The State Patrol does not have any statistics on which tribes are sending their protection orders up to the Superior Court and which are not.

“We continue to educate and work with the tribes to get as much information as possible,” said Anderson, stressing officer safety and the availability of data for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System during gun purchases.

Still, Anderson said Washington State is considered a leader in finding and fixing these gaps.

“All of the law enforcement agencies, including tribal law enforcement agencies, want the same thing.”

At the time he bought the gun, Raymond Lee Fryberg, Jr. had a permanent protection order placed against him in Tulalip Tribal Court for assaulting and threatening his then-girlfriend in 2002, an order he violated in 2012.

Under the restraining order, Fryberg was not allowed to possess a firearm.

Fryberg Jr. allegedly lied on the ATF Form 4473 he filled out during the purchase that includes a question about being the subject of a protection order against an intimate partner

Fryberg will remain in custody until a detention hearing on Thursday. He could face 10 years in prison if convicted of lying on the ATF Form 4473 he filled out during the Beretta purchase.

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WSP: Fryberg bought gun illegally thanks to lack of reporting from tribal court