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Tragedy at Red Lake: Major grand jury activity

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
A federal grand jury held 4 1/2 hours of proceedings on Wednesday, according to news reports, as more than a dozen of potential witnesses, including students, were escorted in and out of a federal courthouse in Minneapolis.

No one was willing to comment in detail about the proceedings, which are sealed because the investigation involves juveniles. "He basically knows what everyone else knows -- nothing," Val Desjarlait said of her brother's appearance. One attorney said a "bunch" of juveniles were subpoenaed. Some have apparently been asked to submit DNA samples.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the grand jury is investigating the possibility of "multiple shooters at multiple sites." A group of students, as many as nine, according to the Associated Press, may have helped plan the attacks and others may have heard about them.

The Pioneer Press said an attack may have been planned at the Red Lake Hospital on the reservation in addition to the Red Lake High School, where shooter Jeff Weise, 16, killed seven others before turning the gun on himself. He also killed his grandfather and his grandfather's companion at their home prior to going to the school.

Federal grand jury begins inquiry into Red Lake tragedy (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/14) pwlat
Federal probe of Red Lake begins (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 4/14) pw1
Investigation moves to federal court (AP 4/14)

The Red Lake Nation has been torn apart by the intrusiveness of the federal investigation and the media's presence on the reservation, Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. told The Pioneer Press in an interview. "It's delaying our healing process," he said. The tribe is considering requiring outsiders to have "passports" to come to the reservation, he said.

Jourdain's 16-year-old son, Louis, has been arrested and charged in connection with the shootings but the chairman maintains his son's innocence. "He was very forthright, came forward, cooperated to the fullest extent, and next thing you know he's swept away," he said of Louis, who was a friend to Jeff Weise.

The incident has caused divisions within the community as money for the families of the victims is being distributed. The tribal council on Wednesday 5,000 checks to 15 families, including Weise's, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. "He is absolutely a victim," said Wanda Parkhurst. Tribal secretary Judy Roy said the money would help with funeral expenses.

But others don't want his family to get any money. "They shouldn't get anything, and I don't care what anybody says," Theresa Spike, the grandmother of 14-year-old shooting victim Alicia Spike,told The Star Tribune.

Jourdain says media and FBI disrupting tribe (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 4/14)
Divide is bitter over who gets money (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/14)

Steven Cobenais, 15, who was shot in the forehead and lost his left eye, continues to show significant improvement. He was upgraded from critical to guarded condition at the MeritCare Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota. He was the most seriously injured survivor but doctors have been amazed at his progress.

Another survivor, Jeff May, 15, remains at the hospital in guarded condition. He was shot in the head.

Most seriously hurt student removed from critical list (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/14)

Donations for the victims and their families can be sent to:
Red Lake Nation Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 574
Red Lake, Minnesota 56671
Helping out the Red Lake Reservation (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 4/14)

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