On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

The shooting at Red Lake: What happened

Share story

Police and investigators' vehicles
Police and investigators' vehicles gather in front of Red Lake Senior High School on March 22, 2005, the day after the shootings.
Jeff Haynes | AFP/Getty Images file 2005

Jeffrey Weise killed his grandfather first. 

He shot his grandfather, Daryl "Dash" Lussier, then Lussier's companion, Michelle Sigana, in the house they all shared on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. 

Weise took the guns Lussier used as a tribal police officer, a Glock pistol and a shotgun. He strapped on Lussier's police-issued Kevlar vest and set off for Red Lake High School in his grandfather's squad car. That is how Weise began his shooting spree on March 21, 2005. 

Weise walked in the front doors of the high school and started shooting. The first two rounds hit Derrick Brun, an unarmed security guard, in a hallway as he stepped forward to confront Weise. 

Weise moved on to math teacher Missy Dodds' classroom, where he shot another teacher, Neva Rogers, and five students. In the midst of the killing, student Jeff May rushed Weise with a pencil, embedding the thing in Kevlar. 

Within minutes of Weise's first shots, a team of four tribal police and conservation officers rushed into the school and came down the hall in a tactical diamond formation and confronted Weise. Weise retreated back into Dodds' classroom, where he shot himself. 

Including Weise, 10 people died. At the time it was the deadliest school shooting since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. It remains the largest mass homicide in Minnesota history. 

The investigation

Within a few hours of the shooting, agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and FBI were poring over security tapes and Weise's belongings for evidence of co-conspirators. 

Weise's computer revealed a stream of instant messages to other kids in Red Lake, kids he hoped to enlist in his school shooting. 

"Most of these boys would go along with these chat messages for awhile," said now-retired FBI agent John Egelhof, "then you'd see them drop off." 

Those boys were tracked down and brought in for questioning, their parents left to fear the worst. The move didn't go over well on the reservation. Anton Treuer, Bemidji State University American Indian Resource Center executive director, called the investigation a witch hunt.

"When there was a shooting at Sandy Hook or Columbine," he said, "they weren't shaking down everybody's third cousin."

Many boys knew of Weise's interest in school shootings and had seen the violent illustrations that filled his notebooks, but only one was charged.

Louis Jourdain, the son of then-tribal chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain, and one of Weise's few close friends was taken to court on conspiracy charges, a fact that Floyd Jourdain still resents. 

"He was running for his life [that day] just like all the rest of the kids," he said.

Years later, Egelhof has no regrets about how the investigation was handled. 

Louis Jourdain's records are sealed because he was a minor at the time of the shooting. It's not clear what came of the case against him. Floyd Jourdain said his son was cleared — that Weise was acting without help or warning, and died alongside his victims. 

School shootings

Shortly after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn., President Obama asked the FBI to use its national crime statistics to determine whether the number of such crimes was on the rise. 

In September 2014,  the FBI report chronicled shootings over a 13-year period in which people set out to kill others in populated areas. It was the first documentation of such cases. 

From December 2000 to 2013, there were 160 "active shooter" incidents in the U.S., in which 1,043 people were wounded or killed. The average number of such cases per year went from six incidents in the first seven years to 16 cases, on average, in the last seven years. 

The FBI incident list includes three Minnesota shootings: The Accent Signage shooting in 2012 that killed six and wounded two, the Rocori High School shooting in Cold Spring in September 2003 that killed two, and the Red Lake High School shooting in March 2005, when a total of 10 people were killed including a security guard, a teacher and five students. Two people were killed at a private home.

Red Lake: 10 years later

Ten years ago, on March 21, 2005, 16-year-old Jeff Wiese shot his grandfather, his grandfather's partner and seven of his classmates at Red Lake High School before shooting himself. 

• Feeling scars at Red Lake, 10 years later

• The victims

From the MPR News archive

• What happened at Red Lake? A documentary

• Survivors talk about the shooting, days later

• Explaining tribal sovereignty

• Full coverage of the 2005 shootings