Son of Hope

Red Lake Massacre

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A Statement of Facts


  Many are wondering what is going in the world. Acts of

senseless violence have left us numb.  And we're asking the

experts why.


     On March 21 a sixteen year old high school student brought

a gun to his school and began to shoot people.  He finally

turned the weapon on himself leaving a total of  ten dead.*

His bloody rampage sent our nation reeling.  It was the worst

school shooting since the 1999 Columbine massacre which killed



     In my area, in February, a 25-year old man walked into a

crowded shopping mall with an assault rifle.  He then began

peppering the area with bullets.  Approxiomately sixty rounds

were fired, according to the local newspaper.  Miraaculously

only two people were wounded, one of them seriously.**


     I saw a color photograph of the 25 year old as he was

being led into court in handcuffs.  The sleeves of his orange

jail jumpsuit were rolled up to his elbows.  So I happened to

spy some odd tattoos on his forearms.  Family members were in

the courtrom too,  Hs father was weeping.***


     Acts of sudden and intense violence have become a sad

characteristic of modern day America.


     In spite of our technological advancements and our high

standards of living, we have come to accept random violence as

part of our culture.   For many troubled young persons having a

gun, mixed with feelings of anger, alienation, self-loathing,

and bottled-up emotions make for a powerful but lethal

explosive force that could burst into unchecked rage at the

slightest provocation.


     My heart has been heavy because of these tragic events. 

Therefore I plan to devote much of my April journal to the

topic of youth violence.


     As a minister, and as a man who once walked down the path

of violence, I hope that what I have to say will be helpful and



     There is an answer to the "spirit of violence" that is

sweeping our nation.  There is hope.






     I vividly remember the Columbine High School shootings

which left fifteen people dead, most of them students,

including the two young gunmen and a heroic teacher.  It was a

brutal killing spree of pent-up anger and a desire for revenge

over real or imagined hurts.  It was unnecessary, and it made

no sense.  Columbine left our nation stunned and devastated and

asking lots of questions.


     Now it has happened again.  History seems to have repeated

itself, this time in the little town of Red Lake, Minnesota.


     On Monday, March 21, on an Indian reservation in a remote

area of the United States, a sixteen year old Jeff Weise

brought a gun and ammunition to his school. He then began to

shoot his fellow students.  In the aftermath, five students,

teacher, and a security guard were slain.


     Later it was learned that this young man also killed his

grandfather (whom he was living with) and his grandfather's

live-in girlfriend.


    Jeff Weise also killed himself.  A total of ten people



     According to an article in the New York Times for Tuesday,

March 22, 2005 (pages A-1, A-16), Jeff Weise walked through the

corridors of the 300-student Red Lake High School at about 3

p.m. firing off rounds from a handgun.  I would assume his

rampage was over in less than ten minutes.


     Some of the ensuing reports I heard over the radio said

that, like the two Columbine gunmen, who were also teenagers,

Jeff Weise was fascinated with Nazism and Adolf Hitler.


     Several who knew him said that Jeff Weise seemed to be an

angry and aloof kid who was into the dark Gothic scene.  That

he experienced several sad and traumatic events in his youth,

to include the suicide of his father, and his mother's ending up

in a nursing home after a serious auto accident.


     Additional reports said he dressed and acted differently

than his peers.  That he was sometimes teased by the other

kids.  Also that he had been the victim of bullying at



     All told, it was a bad mix.  A string of grievous personal

tragedies and having to live with his grandfather and his

companion, Jeff was clearly a taroubled man with probably no

one to pour his heart tok and perhaps no close friends.


     And acording to additional news reprrts, Jeff Weise made

frequent visits to a pro-Hitler chatroom on the internet where

he frequently left postings of adoration for Adolf Hitler.


     An article in the New York Daily News for Friday, March

25, 2005 (page 24)  said that Jeff was on the controversial

anti-depressant drug Prozac.  Also that additional evidence had

been uncovered by investigators that he had been planning the



     The Daily News articl went on to say that Weise had

apparently posted on his own web site a 30-second animation

titled "Target Practice" in which a person with an automatic

rifle shoots several peopl and does some other acts fo violence

before putting the barrel of the gun in his mouth killing



     I could see that Jeff Weise was ripe for the demons of

hate, anger and revenge to do their dirty work on his mind.


     Everyone is asking "why?'  Family members, neighbors,

school officials and law enforcement all want to know why this

young man, Jeff Weise, who should have been dating girls and

;aying ball, instead became a longly brooder suffering from

deep depression, suicide attempts, talking about Hitler and

death, and then finally killing nine people and then himself.


     Each person seems to have his own theory.  Grom Prozac to

having experienced crushing blows like the suicide of his

father and a crippling accident that has left his mother

confined to nursing home, the question following "why" is

"could this tragedy have been prevented?"


     We';; never know with a certainty.  But this troubled soul

had been crying out for help for a long time.


     According t an aricle from the New York times dated

Saturday, March 26, 2995 (A-7), "Family Wonders if Proac

Prompted School Shootings" by Monica davey and GArdiner Harris,

student Jeff Weise had been taking anti-depressants because of

his depression.  He had also attempted suicide once by cutting

his wrist.


     The Times' story said that Jeff had been receiving mental

health counseling, and that he had been hospitalized for at

least 72 hours following the attempt at taking his life.  He

clearly tried to reach out to others and communicate his pain

because he had aweb site in which he posted his thoughts and

feelings.  Also according to the article, Jeff Weise had an

internet posting which read:


     "I had went through a lot of things in my life that had

driven me to a darker path than most choose to take.....

"I split the flesh of my wrist with a box opener, painting the

floor of my bedroom with blood I shouldn't have spilt...

"After sitting there for what seemed like hours...I had a

revelation that this was not the path."


                                 Jeff Weise




     I have since read several more articles from various

periodicals, and they're all basically the same.  Other than

reporting on the victims and the impact of this tragedy on the

local community, there were no answers.


     Some of the news stories reported that Jeff Weise would

often wear dark clothing and the he was "obsessed with death." 

No kidding!


     Living on a Native American reservation with its poverty,

and its higher than the national average rates of addictions to

drugs and alcohol, its youth suicides and the high rate of

"accidental" deaths for Native Americans under the age of 20,

for Jeff Weise death was a close presence.




     In such a world as his where Jeff's dad took his own life

leaving his son with the guilt, and having to fend for himself

and live among in-laws, how could such a young man live the

American dream of hope for a good future?


     "Hope" was not in Jeff Weise's vocabulary.  There was

nothing in his life to give the word hope any meaning.


     Furthermore, I do not believe that Jeff Weise could see

past his own little world of despair and crushing

disappointment.  And I would not be surprised to learn that he

had a lot of anger towards God.


     The kids who insensitively tormented and bullied Jeff, a

boy who was already suffering from an overload of emotional

pain, were only throwing dry logs on a long smoldering fire.


     They were no doubt ignorant of this young man's growing

anger at life's seeming unfairness.  And they were, in a sense,

helping to make a human bomb that would one day explode in a

burst of violence.


     But until this day came, it appears that Jeff stayed on

the faceless intenet posting his self-absorbed messages, while

pleading for someone to take notice of him and show concern.


     I read some of his postings that were published in various

newspapers.  Interestingly, I never saw any of the responses he

received or if he got any.



     For awhile, however, he managed to unleash some of his

anger by writing his praises for Hitler on a pro-Nazi website. 

I think that the Fuhrer's idea about a "Final Solution" to get

rid of the unwanted touched a common thread in Jeff.  There

were a bunch of local teenagers whom he thought needed to be

taught a lesson.  His tormentors had to go.  Eventually he



     Jeff Weise knew where his grandfather, a "long-time

officer with the Red Lake Police Department," kept his guns and

ammunition.  A tragedy was about to unfold.





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