RED LAKE, Minn. – Two days after a shooting rampage on the Indian
reservation in Red Lake left 10 dead, friends, relatives and
neighbors of the teenage assailant began to sketch a portrait of a
deeply disturbed youth who had been treated for depression in a
psychiatric ward, lost several close family members, sketched
gruesome scenes of armed warriors and had been removed from the
school where he gunned down most of his victims Monday.
Still, even the few people close to him were at a loss to
pinpoint precisely what triggered Jeff Weise’s deadly outburst, and
officials provided little information about the 16-year-old
On the Red Lake Indian Reservation, officials held a private
prayer service Wednesday night and met to discuss when students
might be able to return to school. Superintendent Stuart Desjarlait
said it might take months for the high school to reopen because of
the “extensive damage” from Monday’s rampage. Five students, a
teacher and a security guard were killed at the school. Seven
students were wounded, and two remained in critical condition
Wednesday at a hospital in Fargo, N.D.
Federal authorities said they were conducting autopsies on the
gunman and his nine victims, but FBI spokesman Paul McCabe said he
did not anticipate releasing any information in the near future.
Tribal leaders were even less forthcoming, strictly limiting
Tensions rose throughout Wednesday, with some residents
whispering fears that if they spoke to outsiders they would suffer
retribution. Residents of neighboring communities offered cautionary
tales about violence on the reservation, and the Justice Department
created a task force to deal with gangs when Red Lake suffered five
homicides in seven months in 2002. Because Red Lake is a “closed”
reservation, it operates as a sovereign nation, running its own
police force and dictating who may set foot on the property.
Those willing to be interviewed described Weise as a young man
who drifted among various homes on the reservation, listening to
heavy metal music, proclaiming his affinity for Adolf Hitler and
periodically showing up at the high school, even though Desjarlait
said that six months ago he had ordered Weise to stay at home for
He was taking the anti-depressant Prozac and at least once was
hospitalized for suicidal tendencies, said Gayle Downwind, a
cultural coordinator at Red Lake Middle School, who taught
It was not uncommon for Weise to spend at least one night a week
at her home.
In his 16 years, Weise lost many relatives. He was estranged from
other family members and had a strained relationship with Daryl
Lussier, the grandfather he killed at the start of Monday’s
Family and friends said that Weise’s father, Daryl Lussier Jr.,
committed suicide in 1997. Two years later, a serious automobile
accident killed a cousin and left Weise’s mother with partial
paralysis and brain damage.
Then, about two years ago, “his other grandfather on his mom’s
side passed away,” an aunt, Kim Desjarlait, told NBC’s “Today” show.
“You are dealing with three deaths within eight years. I think for a
kid starting at 10 years old, that’s a lot to take.”