Friends and family established a fund for the victims and their families.
Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank

to The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Memorial Fund.

Red Lake Investigation Continues

Mar 22, 2005 2:12 pm US/Central
The Red Lake Indian community is heartbroken in the wake of a teenager's apparent shooting rampage that left 10 people dead and seven injured. "We're in utter disbelief and shock," said Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. "There's not a soul that will go untouched by the tragic loss that we've experienced here. ... This is without a doubt the darkest day in the history of our group's tribe."

The FBI believed the spree began at the suspect's grandfather's home and ended at Red Lake High School in Red Lake, Minn., approximately 240 miles north of Minneapolis. Ten fatalities were confirmed, including five students and the suspect. The FBI identified the suspect as 16-year-old Jeff Weise.

Investigators said he killed himself at the end of the spree. Students said he was a junior at the high school. The five students were identified by the FBI as Thurlene Stillday, 15; Chase Lussier, 15; Chanelle Rosebear, 15; Alicia Spike, 15; and Dwayne Lewis, 15. The FBI identified the remaining victims as Daryl Lussier, 58, the suspect's grandfather; Michelle Sigana, 32, Lussier's companion; Neva Winnecoup Rogers, 52, a teacher; and Derrick Brun, 28, a security officer.

FBI special agent Michael Tabman said a total of seven people were wounded, and five remain hospitalized as of Tuesday afternoon. He did not release information on the victims' identities or conditions. Original reports indicated as many as 15 were wounded.

Separate sources have identified six injured students: Jeffrey May, 15; Steven Cobenais, 15; Jeffrey Green; Cody Thunder, 15; Lance Crowe, 15; and Ryan Auginach. May and Cobenais are in critical condition at MeritCare Hospital in Fargo, N.D. Thunder, Crowe and Auginach are reported in fair condition at unreleased locations. Additional information has not been released. Doctors at North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji, Minn. said they admitted six wounded students between 4:22 p.m. and 4:50 p.m. Monday. All were male and under the age of 18, doctors said.

One was admitted with a head wound and later died, Dr. Joe Corser said. Two were critically injured and transferred to MeritCare in Fargo, N.D. for treatment of their injuries, doctors said. One was shot in the head and the other was shot in the face, Corser said. Three wounded students remain at North Country Regional Hospital, doctors said Tuesday. Corser said two were shot in the chest and one was shot in the hip. Doctors said none of those patients were critically wounded. Their identities were not released pending FBI and parental authorization.

LeeAnn Thunder, whose 15-year-old son was wounded, told WCCO-TV she rushed to the school when she heard about the shootings. "When I got there, it was total chaos," Thunder said. "I knew when I didn't see my son anywhere where all the other kids were that something happened to him."

Investigators said the school shootings appeared to be random. The FBI believes the spree began when the suspect killed his grandfather Lussier, who was a Red Lake police officer, and his female companion at Lussier's home. Authorities said the suspect took a flak jacket, a .40-caliber handgun and a 12-gauge shotgun from his grandfather's home and drove his grandfather's police truck to the high school. Leahna Barnett said her sister was in class when she saw the suspect pull up to the school in the police truck. "He just got out, and he had a bandana on, and just started shooting," Barnett said.

Investigators said they believe the suspect killed the security officer, who was unarmed, and encountered teacher Rogers and some students in a hallway inside the school. After the suspect fired shots, investigators said Rogers and the students fled into a classroom. Investigators said Weise followed them into the classroom and opened fire. The suspect continued through the school firing randomly, investigators said, and fired on four police officers after they entered the school. The suspect returned to the classroom where he previously opened fire and killed himself, investigators said. Investigators said they did not know if the suspect was injured in the exchange with police. They said no police were hurt in the exchange.

The FBI closed the school and the Red Lake reservation Tuesday to continue their investigation. Highway 89 and County Road 15 were blocked to keep anyone from coming to or leaving the reservation. As Red Lake is a federal reservation, the FBI has jurisdiction over its crimes. Special agent Tabman said the FBI believes Weise acted alone, but they are exploring all possibilities in the process of their investigation.

According to reports, the suspect may have posted messages on a neo-Nazi Web site praising Adolf Hitler and calling himself "Angel of Death" in German. The FBI would not confirm the postings. Investigators said they did not know if there were precipitating circumstances between the suspect and his grandfather. They said Weise did not live with his grandfather, but would not release additional information about where the suspect was living.

Weise's father committed suicide about eight years ago, and his mother, Joann Weise of Bloomington, Minn., suffered brain damage in a car accident. The suspect began living with his grandparents in Red Lake after his mother's accident.

Joann Weise, 39, was escorted out of her home by friends Tuesday morning, apparently headed for Red Lake. She chose not to speak to reporters. WCCO

A memorial service for the victims of Monday’s Red Lake shootings will be held at 2 p.m. today on the grounds of the state Capitol. The gathering is being arranged by Red Lake officials. Gov. Tim Pawlenty will attend.

Local officials have set up a fund for the families of the shooting victims. It will be called the Red Lake Memorial Fund and is located at the Wells Fargo bank in Bemidji.

donations can be made at ANY WELLS FARGO BANK TO

survivors care for each other

CHICAGO, March 21 - A high school student went on a shooting rampage on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota on Monday, killing his grandparents, five fellow students, a teacher and a security guard, as well as himself, the authorities said.

A dozen others were injured in the barrage, which erupted at the 300-student Red Lake High School about 3 p.m., officials said. The grandparents were apparently killed at their home earlier in the day, and the authorities were investigating whether guns used in the shooting were taken from the grandfather, a veteran officer on the tribal police force.

"It will probably take us throughout the night to really put the whole picture together," Paul McCabe, an F.B.I. spokesman in Minneapolis, said at a briefing. "It's still a very fluid investigation. Right now there's still a lot of work to do."

Mr. McCabe did say that "we do have evidence that we believe that the shooter is dead," and that "we believe he was acting alone."

He identified the gunman's grandfather as Daryl Lussier, a longtime officer with the Red Lake Police Department and said Mr. Lussier's guns may have been used in the shootings, The Associated Press reported.

The shooting was the worst at a school since 15 people were killed at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colo., in 1999, and came just 18 months after two students were fatally shot at Rocori High School in the central Minnesota town of Cold Spring, 200 miles away.

Roman Stately, director of the Red Lake Fire Department, told The A.P. and local television stations that the police found the grandparents' bodies an hour after the school shooting and that the young man used his grandfather's shotgun and two pistols in the rampage.

"Apparently, he walked out in the hallway shooting and then he entered a classroom," Mr. Stately told KARE-TV, the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul. "Shot several students and a teacher." He added, "And then himself."

Witnesses told The Pioneer, a newspaper in Bemidji, the nearest town, an hour's drive away, that the gunman was "grinning and waving" as he fired his weapon and that students pleaded with him to stop, according to The A.P.

"You could hear a girl saying, 'No, Jeff, quit, quit, leave me alone, what are you doing?' " The A.P. quoted Sondra Hegstrom, a student, as telling The Pioneer. "I looked him in the eye and ran in the room, and that's when I hid."

A teacher, Diane Schwanz, told The Pioneer that she herded students under benches as she dialed 911 on her cellphone. "I just got on the floor and called the cops," she said.

Mr. McCabe said the victims at the high school were all found in one room. The dead teacher was a woman, he said, the security guard a man; four students, including the gunman, died at the scene and two more later at a hospital.

The Red Lake reservation, about 240 miles north of the Twin Cities and about 120 miles south of Canada, is home to about 5,000 Ojibwa Indians, commonly called Chippewa. The tribe operates three casinos and other tourist attractions on some half-million acres.

Clyde Bellecourt, founder of the Minneapolis-based American Indian Movement, said he could not "remember anything as tragic as this happening" on a reservation.

"Everyone in the Indian community is feeling really bad right now, whether they're a member of the Red Lake or not, we're all an extended family, we're all related," he said. "Usually this happens in places like Columbine, white schools, always somewhere else. We never hear that in our community."

Mr. Bellecourt and his brother Vernon, another longtime American Indian leader, said that the gunman's grandfather had been on the local police force for perhaps 35 years, and belonged to one of the tribe's most prominent and respected families.

"No one would ever think that that type of violence would visit itself in our communities, it's not part of our culture and our traditions, so we're kind of puzzled by it all," Vernon Bellecourt said.

"But our young people are not exempt from the same problems young people have across the country," he added, "so our communities are now being victimized by this same kind of violence."

Sherri Birkeland, a spokeswoman for North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji, said six of the injured were treated at her emergency room, two of them later airlifted to MeritCare Healthcare Systems in Fargo, N.D.

One of the remaining four died, Ms. Birkeland said, declining to release information about the conditions of the others or describe any injuries. The hospital was shut for several hours afterward, she said.

In Fargo, Carrie Johnson, a spokeswoman for MeritCare, said the first victim arrived by helicopter at 5:55 p.m.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota issued a statement Monday evening expressing "profound sorrow" and extending "heartfelt prayers and condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this senseless tragedy."

Reporting for this article was contributed by Mikkel Patesfrom Fargo; Kermit Pattison from Minneapolis; and Gretchen Reuthling from Chicago.

Red Lake school shooting: How you can help

Chippewas in shock, mourning after teen goes on rampage

Native American Times and Associated Press 3/22/2005
A fund has been established for relatives of the victims in Monday’s horrific school shooting that killed at least ten people and wounded 14 others on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota.

The phone lines at the tribal council were jammed Tuesday morning as Red Lake Chippewa officials struggled to cope with what Floyd Jourdain Jr., chairman of the tribe, called, "without doubt, the darkest day in the history of our tribe…There's not a soul that will go untouched by the tragic loss that we've experienced here,"

“Everybody is still in shock,” Dorothy, an employee at the tribe’s elderly nutrition center who declined to give her last name, told the Native American Times. “ All of the places [here] are closed. We are open because we are preparing lunch for the police working on [the shooting].”

Initial reports about the massacre are chilling. According to accounts from the Associated Press and regional media, the shooter was Jeff Weise, a 17-year-old student who had been placed in the school's Homebound program for some violation of policy, according to school board member Kathryn Beaulieu. The victims included the gunman's grandfather; the grandfather's wife; a school security guard; a teacher and five other students. At least 14 others were wounded, officials said.

Reggie Graves, a student at Red Lake High School, said he was watching a movie about Shakespeare in class when he heard the gunman blast his way past the metal detector at the school's entrance, where an unarmed guard was killed. Then, in a nearby classroom, he heard the gunman say something to his friend Ryan. "He asked Ryan if he believed in God," Graves said. "And then he shot him."

That question about God is an eerie reminder of a similar line uttered by one of the two teen shooters during the rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in April 1999 that ended with the deaths of 12 students, a teacher and the two gunmen. Police said Weise killed himself after exchanging fire with officers. Red Lake Fire Director Roman Stately said the gunman had two handguns and a shotgun. Stately identified Weise's grandfather as tribal policeman Daryl Lussier and said Lussier's guns may have been used in the shootings. Almost a year to the day before his death, Lussier served as a pallbearer during the funeral of a longtime friend and fellow tribal member, R. John Morrison, whose Indian name was “Daniiwinini-Rich Man.”

The Red Lake Reservation has 5,162 residents and all but 91 are Native Americans. Even though the tribe operates a few gaming enterprises, there are a disproportionate number of people living in poverty on the reservation. The shooting has reverberated in Indian Country. “I ask that we concentrate on the lives that have been impacted. Certainly this is a time of mourning for the families and their communities. We should pay our respects to the affected families and friends of the victims and offer prayers to restore harmony to the Red Lake Chippewa Nation,” Navajo Nation Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan said in a statement.

“I extend our heartfelt sympathy and condolences from the Tribal Council and the Minicoujou, the Itazipco, the Sihasapa and the Oohenumpa People of Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, for the tragic loss of lives and those injured,” said Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

“We are reminded of the fragility of life and the significance of our young. We share in your mourning and know as Indian people we are not immune to such disastrous events that happen nation-wide.” As the investigation in Weise’s background continues, Indians and non-Indians alike are also wondering how they can help.

Leah Perkins of the tribe’s Crisis Center said that any donations or care packages would be welcome. All donations & care packages should be sent to:

Red Lake Tribal Council

C/O Leah Perkins P.O. Box 574
Red Lake, MN 56671

Tragedy resonates in Fond du Lac

Posted on Wed, Mar. 23, 2005
BY STEVE KUCHERA FOND DU LAC - Red Lake and Fond du Lac reservations are miles apart, but their members are related by history, tradition and blood.

"The blood that was spilled was Anishinaabe blood. I can feel that in my heart," Fond du Lac Band member Ricky DeFoe told people gathered for a healing ceremony at Fond du Lac Ojibwe School on Tuesday afternoon. A Red Lake High School student killed nine people and himself Monday.

The Ojibwe School held Tuesday's ceremony to offer its prayers and support both to the Red Lake Nation and to Red Lake members attending and working at the school. The Cedar Creek Drum group sang songs of honor, memorial and travel. DeFoe spoke of traditional Ojibwe teachings and values and of the need for respect and living in harmony. He asked the Creator for pity.

"We must continue and learn from what happened, to do the best we can so this never happens again," DeFoe said. Ojibwe School Principal Patty Cook agreed. "Red Lake Nation needs your prayers and your thoughts," she told the audience. "This is something that will never be forgotten." Cook was related by marriage to one of the people killed Monday. Her voice breaking, she talked of the lessons to learn from the tragedy.

She spoke of how the shooting suspect, Jeff Weise, had been bullied and taunted for the way he dressed. Anti-bullying signs hang in the Ojibwe School's lobby and hallways. "All I can say is be kind, be patient, be good to each other," Cook told the gathered students, staff and community members. "I hope we never have to call a Code Red in our school," she said, referring to an emergency in which classroom doors would be locked and students would take cover by huddling along walls.

The school practices the drill several times a year. The Ojibwe School's efforts to help its students and staff began Tuesday morning before classes began. Cook, Superintendent Mike Rabideaux and others gathered early to go over lists of the school's 370 K-12 students, looking for those with connections to Red Lake. About 15 of the school's students are Red Lake members; more have ties to Red Lake, Rabideaux said.

Staff members met each as they arrived, offering whatever support possible. "It hit a couple of kids hard," Rabideaux said of the shootings. "They had cousins who were shot." The school's entire staff met at day's end to talk about the signs they'll need to watch for that could indicate a student needs more support.

The school will also hold a traditional feast Thursday to help the healing process before dismissing students for a long Easter weekend. Mike Sayers, Duluth-Red Lake urban liaison for the Red Lake tribe, attended Tuesday's healing ceremony at the Ojibwe School, which his children attend. Sayers said he got many calls Tuesday morning from people expressing their concern and offering donations or their help.

A lot of the Red Lake tribe members in the area called as well. "They want to know when we can go up, what the arrangements are," he said.

When more details are known, the tribe will rent a bus to take tribal members from Duluth to Red Lake, Sayers said. "It doesn't seem real," he said. "Things like this don't happen in Minnesota, not on this scale."

STEVE KUCHERA can be reached at (218) 279-5503,
toll free at (800) 456-8282, or at

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