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Minnesota Public Radio 

What happened at Red Lake on March 21, 2005?

 

Red Lake High School in northern Minnesota was the site of a deadly shooting Monday. Five people at the school, and two others in the community, were killed -- apparently by a student who then killed himself. (Photo courtesy of Red Lake Net News)

Residents of the Red Lake reservation in northern Minnesota struggled to understand a shooting March 21, 2005 that left 10 people dead and seven injured. The gunman was a 16-year-old student at Red Lake High School. He killed himself afterward.

Thoughts and prayers to the victims of this tragedy 7 years ago...

As reported by MPR:

Daryl Lussier, 58

The grandfather of Jeff Weise and one of his first two victims, 58-year-old Daryl Lussier was a lifelong tribal police officer known around the reservation by his nickname: Dash.

"If you knew him, you said Dash, and everyone knew who you were talking about," said Ed Naranjo, a retired Bureau of Indian Affairs officer who worked with Lussier in 1979 and again from 1985 to 1990.

Lussier had four adult children and two under the age of 10, Naranjo said. He was well-liked and respected around the reservation, Lussier said. He helped maintain order during periods of turmoil and unrest on the reservation.

"He was that kind of individual who could calm a very hot situation," Naranjo said. "He just projected that feeling."

Tribal officers were nervous in the late '80s, Naranjo said, when the tribe switched from BIA protection to contract officers. Lussier eventually switched from the BIA to working on a contract, and helped his colleagues who were upset.

"There was that song at the time - 'Don't Worry, Be Happy,"' Naranjo recalled. "Everybody was feeling kind of down, and he would just walk around singing that."

Michelle Sigana, 32

Michelle Sigana enjoyed her new job as a cashier at Seven Clans Casino in Thief River Falls, but her real passion was her family.

The 32-year-old Red Lake woman - who was killed along with her companion, Daryl Lussier - loved spending time with Lussier and their son, Devon.

"They just gave him whatever he wanted," said Mark Sigana, a cousin. "For both of them, their priority was making sure he had everything, which he did." The boy is 12 or 13, he said.

Michelle Sigana grew up on the Red Lake Indian Reservation and went to high school in Red Lake. Later, she and Lussier took Mark Sigana in when he needed a place to stay.

Mark Sigana last saw his cousin a week ago, when she was on her way to Bemidji to shop.

"There was never a dull moment with her," he said. "She was just the happiest person anyone can be around."

Derrick Brun, 28

Derrick Brun was remembered as a gentle spirit who loved the kids he guarded at Red Lake High School, his alma mater.

Brun was a former police officer and was taking classes to be an emergency medical technician, said a cousin, Nancy Richards.

"He was just an all-around good guy," she said, adding that he was the type of person who would open his doors to someone who needed a place to stay.

"He was a kind, gentle person," Richards said.

Brun, the youngest of five children, had started working as a school security guard last fall, Richards said.

Brun was divorced and had a daughter, Courtney Brun, who died a couple of years ago at the age of 2 1/2 from a medical condition.

"That's the only comfort the family has, is that he's with Courtney now," Richards said.

Alicia White, 15

Alicia White was a lot of fun, the kind of girl who had lots of friends, but things weren't always easy.

"She was really a sweet little girl," said Wendy Johnson, whose daughter, Ashley Morrison, was friends with Alicia. "She never hurt anybody, and had no bad things to say about anything or anyone."

The Redby teenager was the oldest of six children and lived with her grandmother, who was ill. But Alicia kept a cheery demeanor, playing basketball for the freshman team. "She was nice," said Morrison, a junior. "She was so sweet. I rode the bus with her and I kept asking, `Why did he shoot her?"'

Pastor Tom Pollock of Redby Community Church led a youth group that White belonged to. He said she helped her grandmother raise her younger siblings.

"She's really played the role of mother," Pollock said, adding that White couldn't wait for a planned youth group trip to Tennessee this summer.

Neva Rogers, 62

After Neva Rogers left her teaching job on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, she was gone for several years. But she returned about six years ago because she felt a strong connection to the community. And Red Lake residents were happy for that.

Larger view

Neva Rogers

"She just made a point when students had personal difficulties to be someone that they could talk to," said her daughter, Cindy Anderson. "And they did."

Rogers, an English instructor, was the adviser to the yearbook and the student newspaper, helping students prepare sports reports and, with spring nearing, profiles of graduating seniors. A blond-haired woman in a sea of dark-haired American Indians, she was well-known and liked.

She was planning a summer trip to Alaska with her boyfriend when she died.

Thurlene Stillday, 15

Thurlene Stillday loved to tell stories. "She always had something to talk about. You know, 'They did this over the weekend or they did that,'" said Sondra Hegstrom, who was two grades ahead of the freshman. "She had a lot of friends and was happy all the time."

The Ponemah girl, who was 15, came from a big family - friends say she was one of four girls and a boy - and looked forward to doing good things in high school and beyond.

"She looked up to us because we were upper classmen," Hegstrom said.

Chanelle Rosebear, 15

Chanelle Rosebear was a tall and graceful freshman. The Ponemah girl, who was 15, played basketball and also was a cheerleader.

"She was really a bright little girl," said junior Sondra Hegstrom. "She always had a smile on her face."

Chase Lussier, 15

Chase Lussier was a teenager with big responsibilities. Students say the 15-year-old was helping to care for a son who had been born just months earlier. He tried to balance that with basketball, doing his homework and spending time with his friends.

"He was a typical teenager," said Sondra Hegstrom, a junior who had known Chase since the two went to the Catholic mission school in Red Lake when they were youngsters. "He loved his baby," she said.

And he might have been a hero. Some students say he pushed a girl out of the way before he was shot.

Dewayne Lewis, 15

You could often find Dewayne Lewis playing basketball in his neighborhood or at a community gym.

"He was very athletic," said his cousin Susan Jenkins, 13.

But playgrounds and basketball courts have been nearly deserted lately. "It's been quiet since the killings," said Corey Whitefeather Jr., a friend whose father coaches Lewis's ninth-grade team.

Others remember Lewis as a friendly face who greeted everyone with a smile.

"He was just an outgoing kid. He would talk to anyone. He had a bunch of friends up here," said Francine Kingbird, a cousin of Lewis' mother.

Kingbird said Lewis was also a grass dancer at powwows.

Jeff Weise, 16

Jeff Weise was an outsider. It had been awhile since the 16-year-old had been to Red Lake High School after he was placed in "Homebound" schooling - where a teacher visits a student at home - for breaking the rules. Students say he was a loner.

Weise apparently found an outlet on a neo-Nazi Web sites - using the German term for "Angel of Death" to identify himself - and dressed in "gothic" black and wrote stories about zombies.

His dad was dead, the victim of suicide, and his mother is in a nursing home after a car accident.

Police say Weise killed his grandfather and his grandfather's companion first, then a security guard and a teacher. Before killing himself, he fired on fellow students, asking one if he believed in God before shooting him.

http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/projects/2005/03/redlake/

 

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