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Tragedy at Red Lake: School to reopen next week

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

Star Tribune: Red Lake School Shootings
Pioneer Press: Red Lake shooting
Tom Heffelfinger, the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, said a claim by a Red Lake tribal police officer that "up to 20 kids" may have known about the deadly shootings at Red Lake High School is an "opinion" that he doesn't support. "I respect opinions, but this investigation is being handled by federal authorities," he said, The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

However, Heffelfinger would not say how many students may have known or helped to plan shooter Jeff Weise's attack. He said the investigation is ongoing and tribal authorities would not comment either.

The suggestion that many students were aware in advance of the shootings was widely reported in the media. So far, the only arrest has been of Louis Jourdain, 16, the son of Red Lake Nation Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr., who says he will stay on as the tribe's leader.

'20 plotters' comment played down (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 4/7) pw1
Jourdain talks about the challenges of leading Red Lake (Minnesota Public Radio 4/6)

Doctors are amazed at the recovery of Steven Cobenais, 15, who was the most seriously injured in the March 21 shootings. He was shot in the face at close range, resulting in severe brain damage and the loss of his left eye.

He was in a medically induced coma but has awoken. According to press reports, his first words were: "I'm hungry." Neurosurgeon Dr. Alex Mendez called his recovery "Almost miraculous."

Cobenais is still considered at risk and is in serious condition at MeritCare Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota. A second victim at the hospital, Jeffrey May, 15, remains in guarded condition.

Meanwhile, the Red Lake Hospital on the reservation received praise by Dr. Charles Grim, director of the Indian Health Service, for the quick response to the tragedy. All but one of the victims were first brought to the hospital.

Wounded Red Lake teen wants to play (AP 4/7)
Wounded Red Lake teen's first words: 'I'm hungry' (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/6) pwlat
Victim's progress is 'remarkable' (AP 4/6)
Red Lake Hospital receives recognition (The Grand Forks Herald 4/7)
Raw pain remains at Red Lake (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/6)

The Red Lake High School will reopen on Monday, three weeks after the shootings. Everything, including classes, the prom and athletics, will resume as normal, school board members decided. A total of eight armed Bureau of Indian Affairs officers will be stationed at the school on temporary basis, funding can be secured for a permanent security force.

Plans call for the school to reopened with a traditional ceremony. Ryan Auginash, 15, one of the surviving victims, wants to lead students and teachers back into the school, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. But some parents say their children don't want to go back to the school. However, all students who sought transfers to nearby schools are being rejected.

In addition to the high school, the elementary and middle schools will reopen next week.

Red Lake High reopens Monday (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 4/7)
Red Lake school to reopen, but how many will attend? (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/7)
RED LAKE SHOOTINGS: School to reopen Monday (The Grand Forks Herald 4/7)
Schools refuse to accept transfers from Red Lake (The Grand Forks Herald 4/7)
Red Lake High's anchor in the storm (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/7)
Red Lake teachers ready for classes (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/6)

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 -