21 March 2005

BREAKING NEWS: Tragedy at Red Lake

Red Lake Shootings: 8 Dead, 14 Injured
Richard Meryhew,  Star Tribune
March 22, 2005

RED LAKE, Minn. -- A young man apparently shot and killed his grandmother and grandfather and then went to Red Lake High School where he killed five more people and injured 14, the FBI reports. The FBI also believes the shooter killed himself and apparently was acting alone.

Paul McCabe, spokesman for the FBI office in Minneapolis, said during a news conference at 6:15 p.m. that four students -- two boys, one believed to be the shooter, and two girls -- died. One female teacher and one security officer also died.

"This is a fluid investigation," McCabe said. "Right now there is still a lot of work to do. We're still clearing the school as a safety precaution even though we believe the shooter is among the dead."
He would not comment on the motive saying, "It is too early in the investigations."

McCabe provided no detail about the sequence of the shooting, but said the dead at the school were found in one room. When pressed for more information, McCabe said "We are not going to comment on any of the details right now. It's an ongoing investigation."

The Red Lake Net News, a webite supported by the tribe, identified the shooter's grandfather as a veteran law enforcement officer for the Red Lake Police Department, Daryl "Dash" Lussier.

Lussier and his wife, who was not identified, were at their home in the Back of Town area in Red Lake when they were shot, the Net News reported.

Tribal fire marshal Roman Stately told KARE-11 TV that the shooter entered the school about 2 p.m, carrying a shotgun and two handguns. "After he shot a scurity guard, he walked down the hallway shooting, and went into a classroom where he shot a teacher and more students,'' Stately said.

After the gunman shot himself, the school's estimated 200 students were evacuated, he said.

But Tribal treasurer Darrell Seki described the situation as "terrible. We see things like this happen outside the reservation, but now it's happened here, in our home. It's an awful situation.''

Red Lake High School principal Chris Dunshee called his wife Cathy shortly after the shootings occurred.

"He called to let me know he was OK and that was a relief,'' she said earlier today. "He didn't want to tell me any details, but said he thoughht five or six people were shot and that one was dead.''

Sherri Birkeland, a spokeswoman for North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji, said at about 6 p.m. that six people had been brought to the hospital. One was dead and three were admitted. Two others were taken to MeritCare Hospital in Fargo, N.D., which can treat very serious injuries.

American Indian Movement leader Clyde Bellecourt talked this afternoon to several family members on the reservation and said initial accounts of the shooting were unconfirmed and confusing.

"A lot of it's still second-hand, and sketchy,'' Bellecourt said. "Nobody has a clear idea of what exactly happened. The first report was that a student drove his car right into the school building, got out and shot a guard.''

He said he was told the gunman shot at least one teacher and three students. He also heard that the gunman shot himself.

"A grandmother of one of the students called to say her grandson was shot,'' Bellecourt said. "She was crying the whole time.''

Audrey Thayer, who lives in Bemidji and works as a researcher for the American Civil Liberties Union's Minneosta chapter, said the reservation was locked down by police with roadblocks. "They have got it closed off,'' she said.

Today's shooting was the second major school shooting in Minnesota in recent years. In September 2003, two students were shot at Rocori High School in central Minnesota.

Aaron Rollins, 17, and Seth Bartell, 14, both died from their wounds — Rollins that day and Bartell 16 days later. Fellow student John Jason McLaughlin, 15 at the time of the shootings, awaits trial in the case.
The Red Lake Indian Reservation is in far northern Minnesota, about 240 miles north of the Twin Cities.

The school has 355 students in grades 9-12, with 31 teachers and a full staff of 55. The population is 100 percent Indian -- 81 percent of them are in poverty and 23 percent are in special education. The graduation rate is 57 percent.

Staff Writers Bob Von Sternberg, Jim Walsh, Josephine Marcotty, Simon Groebner, Jaime Chismar, Stan Schmidt, Vincent Tuss, John McIntyre and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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