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Tragedy at Red Lake leads to son of tribal chairman

An update on the latest developments involving the March 21, 2005, fatal shootings on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota.


Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr.
Floyd Jourdain Statement on Arrest
Star Tribune: Red Lake School Shootings
Pioneer Press: Red Lake shooting
Red Lake Nation Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. confirmed in a statement that his 16-year-old son, Louis, has been arrested in connection with last week's tragedy that left 10 people dead. But he said his son -- whom he calls his "pride and joy" on his personal web site [Link] -- is innocent and incapable of such violence.

"My heart is heavy as a result of the tragic events that unfolded here at our nation," Chairman Jourdain said. "But it is with optimism that I state my son Louis' innocence. He is a good boy with a good heart, who never harmed anyone in his entire life."

Louis Jourdain was arrested on Sunday on the reservation by the FBI and arraigned in federal court in Duluth on Monday on charges of conspiracy. He reappeared in court yesterday during a 90-minute hearing. The proceedings are closed because he is a juvenile. Chairman Joudain said he would not make further comments.

The arrest shocked people on the reservation, who elected Jourdain as the tribe's youngest leader last year. Many revere the Jourdain family -- Roger Jourdain was widely respected during his 31-year tenure as chairman of the tribe. Some wonder whether the chairman will survive the latest turn of events.

Tribal Leader: Son Is Innocent (The Washington Post 3/30) pwpwd
Tribe Is Shaken by Arrest of Leader's Son in Shootings (The New York Times 3/30) pwnyt
Arrest raises questions about chairman's job (The Grand Forks Herald 3/30)
Son of Chippewa Leader Is Charged in Shootings (The Los Angeles Times 3/30) pwpwd
Jourdain name respected by nation's Indians (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 3/30) pw1
For tribe's chairman, personal tragedy (AP 3/30)

The FBI initially believed the shootings were solely the work of Jeff Weise, 16, who turned the gun on himself after killing nine others. But as the investigation proceeded, they centered on Louis Jourdain, relying on Internet communications between the pair and on information from other sources.

According to The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Weise and Jourdain began planning the attack more than a year ago, based on e-mails and instant messages uncovered. The paper said both planned to kill Weise's grandfather, a veteran tribal police officer, and take his guns to the Red Lake High School and "start shooting people." It is unclear why Weise acted alone on March 21.

According to The St. Paul Pioneer Press, other people may have had knowledge of, or helped plan, the attack. Investigators have interviewed Weise's friends and say additional charges aren't out of the question.

Students at Red Lake say Weise and Jourdain were part of a crowd called "The Darkers." They usually dressed in black clothing and chains, wore unusual hair styles and listened to the same style of music.

On the day of the incident itself, students raised suspicion when Jourdain, in the library at the time, appeared to know that the Weise was involved as soon as gunshots were heard in the school. Two students told The Star Tribune that Jourdain "just kind of freaked out" when he heard the shots and struggled with a teacher who tried to force him into a library office. Jourdain reportedly went out into the hallway and may have confronted Weise as the shootings occurred.

Witness: Alleged Conspirator Knew Who Was Attacking School (MTV News 3/29)
Computer clues linked Jourdain, Weise (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 3/30) pwlat
Louis Jourdain 'just kind of freaked out' (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 3/30)
Investigators suspect wider attack planned (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 3/30)
Students surprised by arrest of chairman's son (The St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Duluth News Tribune 3/30) • Jeff Weise's e-mail trail led authorities to Jourdain (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 3/30)

Many Red Lake tribal members who live in the Twin Cities are seeking assistance to travel back home. The tribe's Red Lake Urban Office is arranging donations. They can be sent to:
Red Lake Urban Office
Franklin Business Center
1433 E. Franklin Ave
Suite 13A
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Also, donations for the victims and their families can be sent to:
Red Lake Nation Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 574
Red Lake, Minnesota 56671
How to help the Red Lake people (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 3/27)

Relevant Links:
Red Lake Net News -
Red Lake Nation -
Red Lake High School -