2005 class photo shows Jeff Weise
A 2005 class photo of Jeff Weise. His hair is gelled in two spots to look like horns.
NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 3/24/2005 4:25:47 AM ET 2005-03-24T09:25:47

The aunt of the teenager who shot dead nine people, five of them fellow students, before killing himself drew a connection Wednesday between his crime and his own tragedies — his father took his own life, his mother is paralyzed and in a nursing home and his maternal grandfather passed away two years ago.

“That’s a lot to take,” Kim Desjarlait told NBC's "Today" show, adding that the Jeff Weise who became a killer last Monday was "not the boy I knew.”

Weise, 16, was also found to have considered himself a Native American neo-Nazi, exchanging thoughts about Hitler and racial purity via the Internet.

“These were the only people that he could probably vent and take his anger out with that were willing to accept him," Desjarlait said. "It's sad that he couldn't talk to somebody within his own clan."

"Your voice isn't really as heard within the Indian community," she said of young Native Americans. "It's more of be seen and not heard. And I think that's what transpired with Jeff ... he just didn't have a voice and his voice really wouldn't have mattered."

Lorene Gurneau, a school bus driver who was a close friend of Weise's parents, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that, at 6 feet tall and weighing 250 pounds, Weise also was the target of constant teasing at school. "Plus he was held back a couple of grades," Gurneau said.

“I used to see him standing near the fence looking out, but not really looking out at anything,” she said. “I never saw anyone stop and talk to him.”

Weise killed an unarmed school guard, a teacher and five students at Red Lake High School on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota. Seven others were wounded in what was the nation’s worst school shooting since the Columbine massacre in 1999 that killed 13 people.

Before those shootings, Weise allegedly shot dead his grandfather and his grandfather's girlfriend at the home he shared with them.

Guns, squad car were grandfather's
The FBI said Tuesday that Weise used guns and a bulletproof vest owned by his grandfather, a local police officer, and drove to the school in his grandfather's squad car.

KARE_TV via AP file
Jeff Weise is shown in an undated family photo.
Red Lake Fire Director Roman Stately identified the shooter’s grandfather as Daryl Lussier, a longtime officer with the Red Lake Police Department.

At the school entrance Weise encountered a 28-year-old unarmed security guard, whom he apparently shot and killed, FBI spokesman Michael Tabman said Tuesday. After killing a number of students and a teacher, "he then roamed through the school, firing randomly," said Tabman.

When police officers arrived, there was an exchange of fire and Weise apparently retreated to a classroom and killed himself. The whole episode lasted about 10 minutes, Tabman said.

Though Weise was captured on videotape inside the school, the recording did not capture any of the actual killings, Tabman said.

Previous violation
Weise had been placed in the school’s Homebound program for a policy violation, said school board member Kathryn Beaulieu. Students in that program stay at home and are tutored by a traveling teacher. Beaulieu said she didn’t know what Weise’s violation was, and wouldn’t be allowed to reveal it if she did.

Student Sondra Hegstrom, 17, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Weise was into Goth culture, wore "a big old black trench coat," drew pictures of skeletons, listened to heavy metal music and "talked about death all the time."

A couple of his friends had said he was suicidal, she added, and they said they were watching a movie once when he said, "That would be cool if I shot up the school."

"They didn't think anything of it," Hegstrom said, but "he got terrorized a lot" by others who called him names.

The FBI's Tabman said investigators did not know if a grudge or vendetta led to the killings and that Weise's targets appeared to be random. Authorities also said Weise appeared to have acted alone.

High school principal Chris Dunshee said Weise “would not be what I would call an habitual troublemaker,” and that he wasn’t aware of a lot of teasing.

“I didn’t really, I guess, feel that he was teased to the point where something like this would happen,” he said.

Online postings about 'racial purity'
Weise was also found by the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper to have posted several comments last year on an online forum frequented by neo-Nazis. He used the pen names Todesengel, German for "angel of death," and "NativeNazi."

"I guess I've always carried a natural admiration for Hitler and his ideals, and his courage to take on larger nations," Weise wrote in one session.

He shared the Nazi goal of racial purity, saying that when he talked in school about that for his own Chippewa tribe, "I get the same old argument which seems to be so common around here. 'We need to mix all the races, to combine all the strengths.'"

"They (teachers) don't openly say that racial purity is wrong," he added, "yet when you speak your mind on the subject you get 'silenced' real quick by the teachers and likeminded school officials."

"When I was growing up, I was taught (like others) that Nazi's were evil and that Hitler was a very evil man," he said in another posting. "Of course, not for a second did I believe this. ... They truly were doing it for the better."

He also wrote that he planned to recruit high school students to join a neo-Nazi movement he hoped to start on his reservation.

"The only ones who oppose my views are the teachers at the high school, and a large portion of the student body who think a Nazi is a Klansman, or a White Supremacist thug," he wrote. "Most of the Natives I know have been poisoned by what they were taught in school."

The FBI's Tabman said the bureau was investigating the reports of Weise's racial postings, but that it had not yet confirmed they were his.

Students describe ordeal
Student Reggie Graves said he was watching a movie about Shakespeare when he heard Weise blast his way past the metal detector.

Then, in a nearby classroom, he heard Weise say something to his friend Ryan: “He asked Ryan if he believed in God,” Graves said. “And then he shot him.”

During the rampage, teachers herded students from one room to another, trying to move away from the sound of the shooting, said Graves, 14. He said some students crouched under desks.

Student Ashley Morrison said she heard shots, then saw the gunman’s face peering though a door window of a classroom where she was hiding with other students.

With Weise banging on the door, she dialed her mother on her cell phone. “’Mom, he’s trying to get in here and I’m scared,”’ Morrison told her mother.

After banging, the shooter walked away and she heard more shots.

“I can’t even count how many gunshots you heard, there was over 20 ... there were people screaming, and they made us get behind the desk,” she said.

Hegstrom said her classmates pleaded with Weise to stop shooting.

“You could hear a girl saying, 'No, Jeff, quit, quit. Leave me alone. What are you doing?” she told The Pioneer of Bemidji.

Hegstrom described Weise 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 said.

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.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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