Many are wondering what is going
in the world. Acts of
senseless violence have left us numb.
And we're asking the
On March 21
a sixteen year old high school student brought
a gun to his school and began to shoot people.
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
were fired, according to the local newspaper.
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
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
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
THE RED LAKE MASSACRE
remember the Columbine High School
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
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
Jeff Weise also
killed himself. A total of ten people
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?"
know with a certainty. But this troubled soul
had been crying out for help for a long time.
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
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."
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."
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?
not in Jeff Weise's vocabulary. There was
nothing in his life to give the word hope any meaning.
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.
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.
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.
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
knew where his grandfather, a "long-time
officer with the Red Lake Police Department," kept his guns and
ammunition. A tragedy was about
TO BE CONTINUED---