- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

RED LAKE, Minn. (AP) — Teachers met yesterday to work out ways of helping young survivors of the nation’s worst school shooting in six years, as outsiders streamed in to help the tight-knit community cope.

“Kids, if you’re out there listening, please, we’ll be there for you. Come back to school and we’ll get through this together,” Red Lake High School Principal Chris Dunshee told KSTP-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul. “Please, let us help you.”

The school remained closed yesterday, as Mr. Dunshee and others assessed what kind of counseling the students would need. Teachers and staff were called to a morning meeting at the nearby elementary school on the Red Lake Reservation.

Reporters weren’t able to approach the school, but Tribal Chairman Floyd Jourdain told WCCO-AM of Minneapolis that the meeting at the elementary school was intended to produce a strategy to help families and victims.

“We’re just coordinating our efforts with our community professionals and spiritual elders, and then also we have people who are coming here to assist the community today,” Mr. Jourdain said.

Authorities still were trying to determine why 16-year-old Jeff Weise went on the shooting rampage that began at his grandfather’s house Monday afternoon and ended at Red Lake High School. Nine persons were killed and seven were wounded before the gunman apparently shot himself.

Many students saw their friends shot, or heard gunshots and screams. Some students said they saw bodies in the hall and trails of blood when they evacuated the school.

“First and foremost, we’ve got to be focused on getting our kids through this,” Mr. Dunshee told the Associated Press. “They’re good kids. They don’t deserve this.”

Mr. Dunshee said many of his colleagues have offered support and encouragement, including Scott Staska, the superintendent of the Cold Spring school district where two students were killed in September 2003. A student, then 15, was charged in the slayings and is awaiting trial.

Mr. Dunshee said Mr. Staska told him, “We belong to a rather exclusive and undesirable club now — and we can get through it.” Mr. Staska recommended that Mr. Dunshee investigate grants available to schools affected by such incidents.

It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since the Columbine High School rampage in Colorado in April 1999, which ended in the deaths of 12 students, a teacher and the two teen gunmen.

The Red Lake killings began at the home of Weise’s grandfather, Daryl Lussier, 58, a tribal police officer who was killed with a .22-caliber gun, said the FBI’s Michael Tabman. Also killed was Mr. Lussier’s companion, Michelle Sigana, 32.

Weise then drove his grandfather’s police car to the school, where he spent about 10 minutes inside, targeting people at random, authorities said.

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