Tuesday, March 22, 2005
It's Happened Again ...
10 Die in Minn. Student's Shooting Rampage
Tue Mar 22, 4:49 AM ET U.S. National - AP
By JOSHUA FREED, Associated Press Writer
BEMIDJI, Minn. - A high school student went on a shooting rampage on an Indian reservation Monday, killing his grandparents at their home and then seven people at his school, grinning and waving as he fired, authorities and witnesses said. The suspect apparently killed himself after exchanging gunfire with police.
It was the nation's worst school shooting since the Columbine massacre in 1999 that killed 13 people.
One student said her classmates pleaded with the gunman to stop shooting.
"You could hear a girl saying, 'No, Jeff, quit, quit. Leave me alone. What are you doing?" student Sondra Hegstrom told The Pioneer of Bemidji, using the name of the suspected shooter.
Before the shootings at Red Lake High School, the suspect's grandparents were shot in their home and died later. There was no immediate indication of the gunman's motive.
Authorities didn't identify the gunman, but a few media outlets identified him as Jeff Weise, citing students and tribal leaders. Accounts of Weise's age varied from 15 to 17, as did whether he was a current student at the school.
Relatives told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Weise was a loner who usually wore black and was teased by other kids. Relatives told the newspaper his father committed suicide four years ago, and that his mother was living in a Minneapolis nursing home because she suffered brain injuries in a car accident.
In addition to the shooter, the death toll at the school included five students, a teacher and a security guard, FBI (news - web sites) spokesman Paul McCabe said in Minneapolis. Among the dead was Neva Rogers, 62, a teacher at the school for five or six years, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Fourteen to 15 other students were injured, McCabe said. Some were being cared for in Bemidji, about 20 miles south of Red Lake. Authorities closed roads to the reservation in far northern Minnesota while they investigated the shootings.
Hegstrom described the shooter grinning and waving at a student his gun was pointed at, then swiveling to shoot someone else. "I looked him in the eye and ran in the room, and that's when I hid," she told The Pioneer.
Stately said the shooter had two handguns and a shotgun.
"After he shot a security guard, he walked down the hallway shooting and went into a classroom where he shot a teacher and more students," Stately told Minneapolis television station KARE.
Students and a teacher, Diane Schwanz, said the gunman tried to break down a door to get into her classroom.
"I just got on the floor and called the cops," Schwanz told The Pioneer. "I was still just half-believing it."
All of the dead students were found in one room. One of them was a boy believed to be the shooter, McCabe said. He said it was too early to speculate on a motive.
Martha Thunder's 15-year-old son, Cody, was being treated for a gunshot wound to the hip.