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Columbine: 15 Years Later

Columbine Survivor Searches for Healing in Red Lake, MN

Red Lake, MN - Red Lake High

March 21, 2005 9 Killed (10 including the shooter), 7 injured

Lester Holt joined Sam on his visit to Red Lake, Minnesota where he met with Justin Jourdain. Justin was a 15 year old freshman on March 21, 2005 when his classmate Jeff Weise, after killing his grandfather and grandfather’s girlfriend, went to the school and took the lives of 7 more people.

Justin was one of 25 students who ran into an tiny office adjacent to their classroom as they heard the shots getting closer. Now a tribal police officer, Justin organized a trip with his classmates to Newtown, Connecticut after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. They made the trip to not only offer their condolences to the community but to pass along a special gift, a dream catcher which had been given to the Red Lake community by a group of students from Columbine.

Sam visits Red Lake High 0:43

Producer's Notebook: Lester Holt

The drive from Minneapolis Airport to the Red Lake Indian Reservation takes almost 5 hours. The calendar says spring is just a day away. You wouldn't know it this far north. The entire way the ground is still covered in layers of snow from an especially hard winter. For Sam Granillo, who is sitting silently in the driver seat beside me, eyes focused on the road ahead, this time period is neither winter or spring. Just the season of his discontent. The time of year when too many young people, including some he knew, have died in school massacres.

I have joined his journey of healing as he drives to Red Lake, Minnesota where in late March of 2005 a troubled teenager killed 9 people, including 7 at Red Lake High school. Sam has traveled here to meet a fellow survivor, Justin Jourdain, who like Sam, has had to confront and process the inevitable emotional trauma that followed the shooting. Sam does not know it yet, but as he comes face to face with Justin, he will hear a story chillingly similar to what he experienced.

Justin was 15 when his school was attacked. Today he is a tribal police officer. A quiet man of few words, he grew up in a culture where men like himself don't readily share their emotions and deep feelings. Yet he will leave Sam with some powerful insight that will prove valuable on his road to healing. It is embodied in the Chippewa word inscribed above the school room that Sam and Justin will meet in: "Ogichidaag." It means warrior. Sam will have to find the warrior inside himself to brave this painful season.