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Red Lake shootings

Coordinates: 48°09′18″N 95°06′08″W / 48.15500°N 95.10222°W / 48.15500; -95.10222
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Red Lake shootings
Red Lake is located in Minnesota
Red Lake
Red Lake
Red Lake (Minnesota)
Red Lake is located in the United States
Red Lake
Red Lake
Red Lake (the United States)
LocationRed Lake, Minnesota, U.S.
Coordinates48°09′18″N 95°06′08″W / 48.15500°N 95.10222°W / 48.15500; -95.10222
DateMarch 21, 2005; 19 years ago (2005-03-21)
2:49 – 2:58 p.m. (UTC-6)
TargetRed Lake Senior High School
Attack type
School shooting, mass shooting, murder–suicide, spree killing, familicide, mass murder
Deaths10 (including the perpetrator)
PerpetratorJeff Weise

The Red Lake shootings were a spree killing that occurred on March 21, 2005, in two places on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Red Lake, Minnesota, United States. That afternoon, 16-year-old Jeff Weise killed his grandfather (an Ojibwe tribal police sergeant) and his grandfather's girlfriend at their home. After taking his grandfather's police weapons and bulletproof vest, Weise drove his grandfather's police vehicle to Red Lake Senior High School, where he had been a student some months before.

Weise shot and killed seven people at the school and wounded at least 9 others. The dead included an unarmed security guard at the entrance of the school, a teacher, and five students. After the police arrived, Weise exchanged gunfire with them. After being wounded, he shot and killed himself in a classroom. At the time, it was the deadliest school shooting in the United States since the Columbine High School massacre. It remains the deadliest mass shooting in Minnesota history.



At the time of the shooting, by some accounts, Jeff Weise was living with his paternal grandfather, Daryl Lussier Sr., a sergeant with the Red Lake Police Department, run by the Ojibwe (aka Chippewa) tribal government at the Red Lake Indian Reservation. The household included his grandfather's 32-year-old girlfriend, Michelle Leigh Sigana.[1]

The reservation of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe is in northwest Minnesota and is one of two nationally that are "closed"; only Ojibwe tribal members may live and own land there. Its residents suffer high rates of unemployment, violence, and suicide. Housing is poor, and many students do not finish high school.[2] Work opportunities are limited on the reservation, which has a population of more than 5,000. A study in 2004 found that a high proportion of students in high school had thought of suicide.[3] The nearest grocery stores are 32 miles (51 km) away from Red Lake in Bemidji.[4]



Trailer shooting


The day of the shootings, Weise retrieved a Ruger MK II .22 caliber pistol from his bedroom and fatally shot his grandfather as he was sleeping; he shot him two times in the head and ten times in the chest. According to Weise's friends, the teenager may have had the gun for as long as a year. He took Lussier's two police-issue weapons, a .40 caliber Glock 22 pistol and a 12 gauge Remington 870 pump-action shotgun, a gun belt and a bulletproof vest.[5] Weise then fatally shot Sigana, his grandfather's girlfriend, two times in the head as she carried laundry up the stairs.[6]: 178 

Red Lake High School shooting


Weise then drove his grandfather's squad car to Red Lake Senior High School, arriving at around 2:45 p.m. CST. As he entered the school through the main entrance, he encountered two unarmed security guards manning a metal detector. Weise shot and killed security guard Derrick Brun with the shotgun, while the other security guard, Leann Grant, escaped without injury, warning students and teachers to take cover.[7][8] Weise proceeded into the main corridor of the school, shooting English teacher Neva Rogers who was pushing a computer cart and conversing with students in the hallway. The students scattered and Rogers ran to knock on Missy Dodd's classroom door. She was let in and initiated lockdown procedures, turning off lights, locking the door, and ushering the students under the tables.[8]

Not long after Neva Rogers entered Missy Dodd's room, Weise shot out the glass panel next to the classroom door, reached his arm through, unlocked the door, and stepped into Dodd's study hall. There were fifteen students and three adults in the room.[8][9] Neva Rogers began to pray, crying "God be with us!" Provoked, Weise shot her in the head several times, killing her instantly.[2]

The shooter then told students, "If any of you believe in God, now would be a good time to call in a favor."[8] Weise approached a group of students, asking, "Do you guys believe in God?"[8][10] One student, Chon'gai'la Morris replied no, and his life was spared.[10] The rest of the group said nothing, and as a result were shot at.[10] The shooter then turned and asked other students if the same question; those who replied in the affirmative or hesitated to answer were wounded or killed.[8][9]

Jeffrey May, a 16-year-old sophomore, tried to wrestle Weise inside the classroom and stabbed him in the stomach with a pencil. May's diversion allowed students to flee the classroom to safety, but Weise shot him two times in the neck and once in the jaw, leaving him seriously injured.[2][11] Weise left Dodd's room a few minutes later to search for more targets. Three students and one teacher lay dead in the class, five more students had been hurt. Weise wandered through the halls and managed to enter one more classroom, where he wounded two more students. A girl hiding inside this classroom heard, the shooter ask, "Do you believe in God?" This time, he did not wait for answers and fired immediately after posing the question.[8]

Witnesses said Weise smiled as he was shooting at people. Several survivors claimed that he asked students if they believed in God, shooting them if they answered yes or hesitated to answer.[8][12] This is believed to have been a reference to a widely publicized, but alleged exchange during the 1999 Columbine High School massacre between perpetrator Eric Harris and Columbine victim Rachel Scott.[by whom?] Weise had also used the screen name "do you believe in god."[8] Ryan Auginash was wounded when he affirmed his faith in Christianity.[8][13] Lance Crowe was also wounded for refusing to answer.[citation needed]

At around 2:52 p.m., Weise returned to the main entrance, where he wounded two students.[8] The police had arrived quickly and engaged him in gunfire. FBI Special Agent Paul McCabe said the shootout lasted for about four minutes. None of the police officers were injured.[12] After being hit three times in the lower back, right leg, and right arm by police gunfire, Weise retreated to the classroom where he had shot and killed the teacher and three students, yelling "I have hostages!"[14] Weise shot and killed two more students who were hiding under tables, before leaning against a wall, putting the shotgun barrel to his chin, and firing, instantly killing himself.[5]

The shootings lasted nine minutes. Weise fired a total of 59 shots during the shooting spree; 14 at his grandfather's home and 45 at the school. He fired 37 rounds from his grandfather's Glock handgun, 14 from his Ruger handgun, and eight from the shotgun.[15]



A total of ten people, including the perpetrator, died in these events.[16][17]

  • Daryl Lussier Sr., 58, police sergeant and Weise's paternal grandfather
  • Michelle Sigana, 32, Lussier's girlfriend
  • Derrick Brun, 28, security guard
  • Neva Rogers, 62, English teacher
  • Alicia White, 14, student[18]
  • Thurlene Stillday, 15, student
  • Chanelle Rosebear, 15, student
  • Chase Lussier, 15, student
  • Dewayne Lewis, 15, student
  • Jeffrey Weise, 16, student/perpetrator


Jeff Weise, the perpetrator.

Jeffrey James Weise, born August 8, 1988, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was labeled an outsider in the Red Lake community and had recently been placed in "homebound" schooling for breaking school rules.[16] Weise had grown up with a difficult and disrupted family life; his parents were a young unmarried couple who separated before he was born. His mother, Joanne Weise, was 17 years old at the time of his birth. Joanne's family insisted that she give up her son to the father, Daryl Lussier Jr., who lived with his parents and family in Red Lake.[3] Weise did not live with his mother again until after he was two years old, when she reclaimed him and took him to live in Minneapolis. In later online postings, Weise wrote that his mother was an alcoholic and was sometimes physically and emotionally abusive.[3][19]

In 1992, his mother began dating a man who allegedly also abused Jeff.[20] After having two children, the couple married on June 27, 1998.[21][22] Weise moved around often because of his mother, and attended several different schools during his adolescence. In 2002, Weise was forced to repeat the eighth grade because of failing grades and truancy; he enrolled in a special education program at the school called the Learning Center. Beginning in middle school, Weise was frequently taunted and bullied by other students.[23]

In 1997, when Weise was eight years old, his father died by suicide aged 32, shooting himself after a days-long standoff with Red Lake tribal police.[3][24] Weise's grandfather, Daryl Lussier Sr., was a sergeant with the tribal police and was involved in the standoff.[25] Two years later, his mother was in an alcohol-related car accident and suffered severe brain damage. She had to be committed to a nursing home for rehabilitation.[26][22] Weise was placed in the custody of his paternal grandmother, having to leave Minneapolis, where he had lived most of his life, to live with her and other paternal relatives on the Red Lake reservation.[20][27]

Weise became close to his paternal grandfather and his younger companion, Michele Sigana, who had given him his own room with them. The family said he had a good relationship with both.[1] In 2000, his mother and her husband separated; they completed the divorce in May 2004. Their custody arrangements covered only the children they had together, and not Weise.[28] By 2003, his mother had moved to an assisted-living facility; she had recovered enough from her accident to work part-time, and had regained speech. Weise chose to stay with his grandmother rather than rejoin his mother and move again.[23]

In September 2003, Weise enrolled at Red Lake Senior High School in Red Lake. Teachers and fellow students remembered him as withdrawn, and he reportedly had a history of troublesome behavior. At times he was referred to be homeschooled. His grandmother said he had not been in school for five weeks before the shooting.[20] His social studies teacher Wanda Baxter recalled, "[Weise] was a good listener like any other ordinary student. He was quiet but never a troublemaker."[29] Another teacher described Weise as "a pretty bright kid, but ... lazy when it came to school."[30] Several students remembered Weise as being non-violent.[3] A close friend of Weise described him as "the only one I talked to about my problems. He was trustworthy, and he was always capable of understanding what I was going through", and other students also said they could talk to him.[2][3]

Internet activities


Weise was discovered to have been quite active on the Internet. According to The Smoking Gun, Weise created two violent Flash animations for the flash website Newgrounds, using the alias "Regret". One animation, entitled "Target Practice", features a character who murders three people with a rifle, blows up a police car with a grenade, and kills a Klansman. The 30-second animation ends with the shooter putting the gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. Weise had created another Flash animation, entitled "Clown", in which a clown kills a man by eating his head.[31] A LiveJournal account, apparently created by Weise, contained three entries posted between December 2004 and January 2005. The weblog was customized to be rendered in black and white. In his posts, Weise expressed his desire for change and salvation in his life.[22]

The Guardian and CBS News alleged that Weise had an account called Todesengel (German: 'angel of death') on nazi.org, a neo-Nazi website operated by the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party. On a talkboard hosted by nazi.org, there were many entries signed by someone going by the name Jeff Weise, who stated that he was a Native American from Red Lake. These entries criticized interracial marriage on the reservation and shamed Native American teens for listening to rap music, claiming it makes them violent.[32][33]

According to reports, Weise spent great amounts of time online on blogging sites.[22] One such blog included a Neo-Nazi Internet forum of the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party. The posts revealed an admiration for the ideas of Adolf Hitler, and interests in persuading other Native Americans as to the merits of those ideas. On one occasion, he fought with a pupil whom he referred to as a "Communist". He also alleged that the school was warned that someone was going to "shoot up" the school on April 20, the birthday of Adolf Hitler and the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, and that the school authorities "pinned" the threat on him. According to one of Weise's classmates, the shooter was "obsessed" with the Columbine High School shooting incident.[8]



Police investigators began searching for a motive behind the shootings. According to their findings and media reports, Weise was often bullied or teased in school by classmates. A tall youth weighing 250 pounds (115 kg), he was known to wear dark eyeliner,[22] as well as a long black trench coat and other black clothing to school year round.[22] He was referred to as a "goth kid" by many of his classmates.[33] Although Weise was sometimes described as a loner, several students said he had numerous friends.[12] He had a notebook in which he drew what a close friend described as "dark stuff".[30]

Later Weise was found to have posted numerous online comments expressing his frustration with living in Red Lake, and feelings that his life was beyond his control. He described the reservation "as a place where people 'choose alcohol over friendship', where women neglect 'their own flesh and blood' for relationships with men, where he could not escape 'the grave I'm continually digging for myself'".[20] His depression led him to attempt suicide in May 2004, when he cut his wrist. He changed his mind, deciding "this was not the path", and posted his thoughts on the website Above Top Secret:[34]

I had went through a lot of things in my life that had driven me to a darker path than most choose to take. I split the flesh on my wrist with a box opener, painting the floor of my bedroom with blood I shouldn't have spilt. After sitting there for what seemed like hours (which apparently was only minutes), I had the revelation that this was not the path. It was my dicision [sic] to seek medical treatment, as on the other hand I could have chose to sit there until enough blood drained from my downward lascerations on my wrists to die.

After he attempted suicide again the following month in June 2004, his aunts arranged with the Red Lake Medical Center for him to be hospitalized at a facility away from the reservation.[35] His continuing treatment included counseling and a prescription for Prozac, an anti-depressant.[1] The extended Lussier family had been involved for years in trying to help him, and arranged for Weise to have care and psychiatric treatment for depression.[1] Dr. Leslie Lundt, a psychiatrist, has commented that a parent's suicide put individuals at high risk for psychological problems, as does alcohol abuse in the family.[23]

Weise ended up staying at the Red Lake Medical Center for three days.[26] One source said that his doctor had increased his dosage a week before the shooting, to 60 mg a day of Prozac.[1] His grandmother said he had not seen the doctor since February 21.[20] His aunts said they were concerned about the increase in his dosage.[5]



Buck Jourdain, Chairman of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, said that the shootings were "one of the darkest and most painful occurrences in the history of our tribe."[36]

Louis Jourdain, the son of the Tribal Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain Jr., was arrested in connection with the shootings on March 28, 2005 and charged with conspiracy to commit murder.[37] He was charged based on several email messages which he exchanged with Weise related to plans for the Red Lake High School shooting. The government dropped the conspiracy charge; however, Jourdain pleaded guilty to transmitting threatening messages through the Internet.

Derrick Brun, the killed security guard, was recognized for his bravery, with special recognition by President George W. Bush.[citation needed] Jeffrey May, a sophomore injured while trying to attack Weise, was highly praised. He was featured in Reader's Digest.[38][10]

The night after the shooting, many people of the community gathered at the high school gymnasium for a healing ceremony. They performed traditional Ojibwe ceremonies and prayed.[2] Within days, preparations started for funerals on the reservation. Tribal members drew from Ojibwe traditions as well as Catholic rites. They "collected bundles of sage, to be given as gifts and burned during funeral ceremonies." Families picked personal items to be placed in the caskets.[26]

Weise's murders and suicide reopened the public debate about Prozac use among children and adolescents. In October 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued a warning about its use because of its association with more thoughts and acts of suicide and violence. At the time it was the only antidepressant approved for use with children.[5]

Siblings of the victims and survivors participated in the 2018 School Walk Outs, which were designed to show respect for shooting victims seen nationally but especially in Florida and Red Lake.[39]



After the murders and Weise's suicide, in April 2005, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa distributed 15 grants to families of victims and people affected by the shootings from a memorial fund that received $200,000 in donations from across the country. Initially, the tribe made 15 grants of $5,000 each to victims and their families, including one to Weise's relatives, to help pay for Weise's funeral and burial. Although some people objected, a tribal spokesman noted his family was not eligible for state compensation and said that they carried "a double burden."[40]

On July 21, 2006, the Red Lake school district reached a settlement with the families of the massacre victims. The school district agreed to pay $1,000,000 total to 21 of the victims' families, the maximum amount allowed by Minnesota law. Of the settlement, $900,000 was to be immediately granted to the families, and the remaining $100,000 to be set aside for future distribution.[41]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e Haga, Chuck (March 25, 2005). "Family: Teen had 'a good relationship' with the grandfather he killed". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2012 – via antidepressantsfacts.com.
  2. ^ a b c d e Maag, Chris (March 27, 2005). "The Devil in Red Lake". TIME. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Sevcik, Kimberly (August 8, 2005). "Reservation for Death". Salon. Archived from the original on January 7, 2014.
  4. ^ Hastings, Deborah (March 24, 2005). "Red Lake tribe poor, isolated and private". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 14, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d Helms, Marisa (March 25, 2005). "Shooting fuels debate over safety of Prozac for teens". Minnesota Public Radio. Archived from the original on March 18, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  6. ^ O’Toole, Mary Ellen (2013). "Jeffrey Weise and the Shooting at Red Lake Minnesota High School: A Behavioral Perspective". In Böckler, Nils; Seeger, Thorsten; Sitzer, Peter; Heitmeyer, Wilhelm (eds.). School Shootings: International Research, Case Studies, and Concepts for Prevention. New York, NY: Springer. pp. 177–188. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-5526-4_8. ISBN 978-1-4614-5526-4.
  7. ^ "MPR: Recounting the horror in Red Lake shooting spree". Minnesota Public Radio. AP. March 22, 2005. Retrieved March 2, 2024.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l FBI Investigation of Red Lake High School Shooting (Report). FBI. Retrieved March 2, 2024.
  9. ^ a b Peterson, Jillian (2021). The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic. Abrams. ISBN 9781647002275.
  10. ^ a b c d Rosengren, John (September 2005). "Everyday Hero: Jeff May". Reader's Digest. Archived from the original on November 28, 2007.
  11. ^ "Tales Of School Shooting Bravery, Slain Security Guard, Wounded Student Saved Others From Teen Gunman". CBS News. AP. March 24, 2005. Archived from the original on November 15, 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  12. ^ a b c Lennard, Jeremy (March 22, 2005). "Ten dead in US school shooting". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 19, 2005. Retrieved November 15, 2005.
  13. ^ "Teen who killed 9 was 'not the boy I knew'". NBC News. March 23, 2005. Retrieved March 2, 2024.
  14. ^ Freed, Joshua; Condon, Patrick (March 31, 2005). "E-Mail Describes Bloody Scene Inside Red Lake High School". KARE 11. Associated Press. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012.
  15. ^ Hughes, Art (April 18, 2005). "Feds: Assault at Red Lake over in nine minutes". Minnesota Public Radio.
  16. ^ a b "MPR: Victims of the Red Lake shooting". Minnesota Public Radio. March 22, 2005. Archived from the original on July 15, 2018. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  17. ^ Enger, John (March 18, 2015). "The shooting at Red Lake: The victims". MPRNews. Archived from the original on July 3, 2018. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  18. ^ Enger, John (March 18, 2015). "Feeling scars at Red Lake, 10 years later". MPRNews.
  19. ^ "A Bloody Day on the Rez". Newsweek. April 3, 2005. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012.
  20. ^ a b c d e Harden, Blaine; Hedgpeth, Dana (March 25, 2005). "Minnesota Killer Chafed at Life On Reservation". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  21. ^ "Jeffrey Weise". The Ojibwe News. March 25, 2005. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012 – via HighBeam Research.
  22. ^ a b c d e f Davey, Monica; Wilgoren, Jodi (March 24, 2005). "Signs of Danger Were Missed in Troubled Teenager's Life". The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  23. ^ a b c Rave, Jodi (October 26, 2006). "Teen suicides series, Part 1: Family still struggling to understand teenager's rampage in Minnesota - Sunday, July 10, 2005". Missoulian. Archived from the original on July 17, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  24. ^ Davey, Monica (March 27, 2005). "Tribe Buries 3 on a Long Road to Healing". The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  25. ^ Langman, Peter (January 15, 2015). School Shooters: Understanding High School, College, and Adult Perpetrators. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 73. ISBN 978-1442233560.
  26. ^ a b c Huffstutter, P.J. (March 24, 2005). "Red Lake Reservation Readies Burial Rituals". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  27. ^ Rave, Jodi (July 11, 2005). "Family still struggling to understand teenager's rampage in Minnesota". Missoulian. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  28. ^ Hanners, David (March 26, 2005). "Web postings show many sides to Weise". Duluth News-Tribune. p. 1A.
  29. ^ Gunderson, Dan (March 23, 2005). "MPR: Who was Jeff Weise?". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  30. ^ a b Bakken, Ryan (February 15, 2002). "Teen "seemed lost in life"". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on January 10, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  31. ^ "School Killer's Animated Terror". The Smoking Gun. March 23, 2005. Archived from the original on March 24, 2005.
  32. ^ Left, Sarah (March 22, 2005). "A neo-nazi 'angel of death'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  33. ^ a b "Troubled Life Of Minnesota Shooter". CBS News. AP. March 22, 2005.
  34. ^ Langman, Peter (2009). Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 122. ISBN 978-0230101487.
  35. ^ Connolly, Ceci; Hedgpeth, Dana (March 24, 2005). "Shooter Described as Deeply Disturbed". The Washington Post. p. A12.
  36. ^ Jourdain Jr., Floyd (March 2005). "17-year-old charged with triple homicide". Red Lake Net News. Archived from the original on October 18, 2005.
  37. ^ "Red Lake Shooting Conspiracy?". CBS News. Associated Press. March 30, 2005. Archived from the original on July 16, 2007.
  38. ^ "'Reader's Digest' Readers Pick Hero From Red Lake". WCCO-TV. Associated Press. March 4, 2006. Archived from the original on November 12, 2007. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  39. ^ Bowen, Joseph T. (March 14, 2018). "At Red Lake, site of 2005 school shooting, walkout carries deep significance". The Bemidji Pioneer. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  40. ^ "Tribe Gives Victims Aid to Shooter's Family, Citing a 'Double Burden'". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. April 15, 2005. Archived from the original on April 4, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  41. ^ Miron, Molly. "Judge signs $1 million order for Red Lake school shooting victims' families". Rodgers Law Office. Archived from the original on February 10, 2019. Retrieved June 4, 2018.

News articles


Ten dead on Minnesota Indian reservation after school shooting at Wikinews