Rural Minnesota school shooting


Wow. It’s a sad day. Some kid, 17 years old, shot and killed his grandparents, then went to school in his grandfather’s police squad car, opened fire, killed 7 others (teacher, security guard and students), then killed himself after injuring more than 10 others. Per capita, his rampage was more damaging than the Columbine incident a few years back.

From what I know, Red Lake is an Indian reservation in northern Minnesota. It’s a very poor community, and relatively a large populous for a reservation – 4,900 of the roughly 10,000 members live on the reservation. In comparison, the Shakopee Midewakton Sioux community that owns Mystic Lake Casino has roughly 200 members. The demand for a casino just isn’t big enough there, where the Shakopee tribe is raking in the money.

Which brings me rambling onto another topic … legalized gambling. What’s with all of the Minnesota proposals for state-opperated casinos? Expansion of the current gambling. New lottery rules – I was told today that they’re going to make the Powerball HARDER to win, presumably to bring in more revenues. Is this really how we want our society to move forward?

I’ve pasted in the article from the StarTribune below.

Red Lake rampage: 10 dead, 12 wounded
Richard Meryhew, Chuck Haga, Howie Padilla and Larry Oakes, Star Tribune

March 22, 2005 RED LAKE, MINN. — A teenage boy opened fire inside the local high school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation on Monday, killing seven people before turning the gun on himself.

The boy, identified by a law enforcement official, a school employee and two students as Jeff Weise, 17, apparently shot and killed his grandfather — a Red Lake police officer — and his grandfather’s girlfriend before heading to the school in his grandfather’s Red Lake squad car, sources said Monday night.

Floyd Jourdain Jr., Red Lake tribal chairman, said Monday was “without doubt, the darkest day in the history of our tribe.”

Twelve other people at the Red Lake High School were wounded, said Paul McCabe, a special agent for the FBI in Minneapolis.

The killing spree was the deadliest at a school in the United States since the 1999 killings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in which 15 people died and 23 were wounded.

“Our community is in shock,” Jourdain said. “Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims’ families. We’re a small town, and everybody is stunned.”

Only Weise and three of his victims have been identified. They were Weise’s grandfather, Daryl Lussier, 58; Neva Rogers, 62, a teacher at the school, and Derrick Brun, 28, a school security officer.

Three other victims remained at North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji. One of them is in the intensive care unit, KSTP-TV reported this morning.

Brun was reportedly the first one killed when Weise entered the building carrying a shotgun and at least one handgun.

The three victims were identified by family members and a law enforcement official.

McCabe shared few details of the shooting during a news briefing in Minneapolis on Monday night. He said he could not speculate on a motive.

The Red Lake Indian Reservation is in northern Minnesota, about 260 miles from the Twin Cities. The city of Red Lake, where the shootings took place, is the most populated area of the remote reservation. The tribe has an enrollment of 10,000, with roughly 4,700 members living on the reservation. Many other members live in the Twin Cities area.

“We know one another,” Jourdain said. “We live and work and play with one another.”

McCabe said he was unwilling to provide additional detail until agents were able to interview witnesses and complete their investigation.

“We believe the shooter is among the dead,” he said.

Added Pat Mills, director of Red Lake’s Public Safety Department: “We’re not looking for any other suspects.”

‘It was chaos’

The school shootings are by far the deadliest in Minnesota’s history, coming about 1½ years after two classmates were fatally shot in a hall at Rocori High School in Cold Spring.

Because Red Lake High School is on an Indian reservation, it falls under federal jurisdiction. Nevertheless, officials from the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension crime lab will meet with FBI agents, said Kevin Smith, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Authorities and witnesses said the shootings occurred shortly before 3 p.m. at the high school.

Mills said there were several 911 calls to the public safety department about 2:55 p.m. reporting shooting at the high school. He said officers arrived within two minutes.

“It was chaos,” Mills said.

Jourdain said the high school “probably was one of the first in the nation to do screening and have security officers.” He said the security was implemented “before Columbine, but this just could not be prevented.”

According to the FBI’s McCabe, the gunman shot two Red Lake residents before heading to the school. Roman Stately, the tribe’s fire marshal, said the boy may have gotten the guns from his grandfather, a veteran police officer on the reservation.

Once at the school, McCabe said, the first person shot was Brun, the security officer.

The boy then “walked down the hallway shooting and went into a classroom where he shot a teacher and more students,” Stately said.

Later, when police arrived, they exchanged shots with the gunman, who retreated to a classroom.

Nevertheless, McCabe said, “preliminary investigation leads us to believe the shooter’s cause of death was a self-inflicted gun shot wound.”

Said Jourdain, “It was a normal school day and all of a sudden it went bad. That’s the question: Why? There are a lot of unanswered questions. We don’t know what the motivations were. And we are afraid the death toll will rise.”

A student’s account

After the boy shot himself, Stately said, scores of students were moved to a nearby building that is part of the tribal government complex. The school has an enrollment of about 250 students in grades nine through 12.

Justin Jourdain, a student, said Monday night that when he heard booming sounds in the high school, he thought something had fallen in the hall.

Then a panicked janitor came in, telling the students to stay in the classroom.

“Someone’s shooting,” the janitor said.

The booms grew louder as they closed in on the room. Jourdain and about 25 classmates took refuge in a small adjacent office.

Jourdain and school Superintendent Stuart Desjarlait held the door shut as the gunman entered the room the students had just fled.

“I was holding the door and he fired one shot at the door, but it didn’t go through,” Jourdain said. “I just heard this loud thud. It was a wooden door and it didn’t go through.”

Desjarlait called police on Jourdain’s cell phone while he held the door. The students were left screaming as the gunman fired shots in the other room, Jourdain said. It wasn’t until 25 minutes later that they felt safe enough to leave their refuge.

Sondra Hegstrom, 17, said she heard “a big bang” and then another before a fellow student came into her classroom yelling: “He has a gun, he has a gun!”

A hall monitor locked the classroom door, a fire alarm went off and nine terrified students and a teacher huddled in the darkened classroom, she said.

They heard gunshots, “bang, bang, bang,” from the classroom next door, Hegstrom said, along with screams of students and someone yelling, “No, Jeff, no!”

Hegstrom thought of death, she said, and worried about who would care for her five-month-old baby. She had a couple of classes with Weise, and “I don’t know if he liked me,” she said. “He was quiet, never said anything.”

Weise was into goth culture, she said, wore “a big old black trench coat,” drew pictures of skeletons, listened to heavy metal music and “talked about death all the time.”

A couple of his friends had said he was suicidal, she said, and Hegstrom quoted his friends as saying they were watching a movie once when he said, “That would be cool if I shot up the school.”

“They didn’t think anything of it,” Hegstrom said, but “he got terrorized a lot.” He was called names and people thought he was weird. “I’m still trembling,” she said late last night. “I just can’t believe this stuff is happening.”

As the students left the school, Jourdain said he peeked inside a classroom where Ojibwe cultural studies are taught. The blood and broken glass throughout the room told the tale of the afternoon’s tragedy.

“It’s an awful situation,” said tribal treasurer Darrell Seki. “We see things like this happen outside the reservation, but now it’s happened here in our home.”

Confusion, concern

Audrey Thayer, who lives in Bemidji and works as a researcher for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Minnesota chapter, said the reservation was locked down by police with roadblocks after the shootings.

Monday night, reporters were being allowed onto the reservation with escorts from law enforcement agencies in the area. Otherwise, the main highways were shut down to traffic by the FBI and Red Lake tribal police.

A news briefing has been scheduled for 2 p.m. today at the Red Lake Detention Center.

As word of the shootings spread across the region Monday, friends and relatives of those living on the reservation frantically began working cell phones hoping to find out more.

In a hallway at the State Capitol, two women from the reservation town of Ponemah — LuAnn Crowe, an election judge on the reservation, and Donna Whitefeather — had just finished testifying on behalf of a bill that would make it harder for partisan poll watchers to challenge voters and intimidate them or prevent them from voting.

As the women emerged from the hearing, they were informed of the killings and immediately began making calls, trying to put together a list of the dead and injured.

Crowe has a daughter and nephew at the school.

Suddenly, Whitefeather announced with panic, that Lance Crowe, the ninth-grade nephew, was dead.

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Crowe wailed.

Minutes later, however, the news was better.

The boy had been shot, but he wasn’t dead.

Lance Crowe underwent surgery Monday night at North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji for a serious gunshot wound to his hand: He raised an arm to block a shot aimed at his head.

The bullet wounds to his chest may have been shrapnel from that one shot, but that was still undetermined Monday night.

“If he didn’t have his hand up there he would have gotten shot in the head,” said LuAnn Crowe.

Lance Crowe recently lost a much-loved elder, a man he called Bubba who was like a grandfather to him, said his aunt, LuAnn. The man died in a car crash on the reservation earlier this year.

Lance told his mother that as he lay on the floor of the school, bleeding from his wounds, he thought to himself: “I don’t want to die.” He told his mom that he could sense Bubba nearby, protecting him.

And then Lance Crowe, who turned 15 last Thursday, said he witnessed the shooter’s final shot. Suicide.

5 thoughts on “Rural Minnesota school shooting

  1. Aye, very sad. I guess it will take some teenager to go have a shoot-out at the guns lobby (ARA?) before you will see any changes to your laws over there.. 🙁

  2. I was reading in the newspaper yesterday about this awful shooting. Why does this have to happen in the United States and so close to home? I was a freshmen in High School when all the shootings happened at Columbine in Littleton, Colorado and it was very sad, but this shooting has really made me think you know if someone comes in my college and starts shooting. It seems really weird because these people that shoot these teenagers are admirers of Adolf Hilter, that brings the question how could you look up to this person that brings so much hate and evil to these young people. I know I will keep the Red Lake Minn town in my prays. I know I love everyone and everyone should be this way! =)

  3. These mass shootings are not being caused by guns or anything else being discussed on blogs today.

    They are caused by a conflict of physiology related to the vision startle reflex. The problem was discovered over fifty years ago.

    VisionAndPsychosis.Net is a psychology project about the conflict of physiology.

  4. Hey mann in this shooting i lost my best freind my ex boyfriend and my hope so if anyone thinks that my rezervation is dumnb fukk off

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