Back to school at Red Lake
RED LAKE, Minn. - Ninety students showed up for an abbreviated school day
with no classes scheduled at Red Lake High School just three weeks after a
fatal shooting rampage that took the lives of 10 people on March 21.
Students followed two shooting victims into the building in a show of
courage and healing. Principal Chris Dunshee said the two students asked to
lead the others in and he didn't hesitate. It was a very strong gesture of
courage, he said.
Students and teachers alike were apprehensive about returning to the
building, where memories of death were still strong for many people. That
apprehension subsided a little after friends and teachers came together.
Only one-third of the student body returned. Most stayed home because of
the trauma; further, some families are very traditional and for them, the
grieving process is ongoing.
Some students told the tribal council and the media that they carry the
image of their friends lying on the floor and still hear the sound of the
The school is separated into two buildings: the old section, which is set
for demolition, and the new section. The new section is where the killings
took place. Students were taken through a different entrance into the old
Students and faculty faced a different element: armed and additional guards
outside and inside the school. Metal detectors were always present with an
unarmed guard at the entrance to the school; that's where Derrick Brun, the
first person killed at the school, was stationed. Jeffrey Weise, 16, exited
a police car he confiscated and shot Brun as he entered the school. In the
school, Weise proceeded to kill six more people, including one teacher, and
The hall and classrooms where the shootings took place are being renovated
to repair the damage done by the bullets fired from the handgun and shotgun
Weise used. Federal authorities said there was a great deal of damage.
On April 11, elders and ceremonial leaders held a healing ceremony at the
school. The ceremony was delayed because days earlier there was the threat
of a hidden gun in the building. Authorities searched the facility and
The initial shock is over, grieving continues, and memories will last
forever for many students and teachers. And just as a reminder, the
Anonymous federal sources claim that many subpoenas have been issued to
students to appear before a grand jury. On April 13, a group of about 12
adults and four youth were observed entering and exiting the federal
building where the grand jury is meeting.
The AP reported that some students were asked to submit to DNA testing. The
unnamed source also said that two groups of students were included: one of
possible conspirators and another of mere witnesses.
Federal authorities would not comment on the possibility of subpoenas, but
parents of students have confirmed their son or daughter were called before
the grand jury. U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger declined to comment on the
direction of the investigation. He said he was disgusted with the leaks
from federal employees and would prosecute if the person or persons
responsible are found.
With the leaks, the knowledge of subpoenas and the ongoing investigation,
the Red Lake community is reeling from a broadening conspiracy theory. It
has become a concern, Dunshee said.
For a few weeks or until the students become comfortable, they will not be
asked to come to school on Fridays. The first week back would be devoted to
the healing process and classes would not start in earnest for at least a
week, teachers said.
When the students return to study they will not find computers - federal
authorities confiscated them all. Weise may have used school computers to
create artwork that depicted killing, and students are said to have passed
e-mail back and forth that may have contained information about the
Tribal Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain Jr.'s son, 16-year-old Louis, is in
custody, charged with conspiracy in the murders. Jourdain asserts that his
son is innocent of the charges. Some tribal members have asked Jourdain to
resign because his attention is more focused toward his family crisis.
Jourdain, the youngest chairman ever to lead the tribe, said he would not