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Arrest of Jourdain's son another shock for Red Lake

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Red Lake tribal chairman Buck Jourdain is being supported by many tribal members, as his teenage son faces charges in connection with the Red Lake shootings last week. (MPR file photo)
People on the Red Lake Indian Reservation are dealing with the news that the son of their tribal chairman is now a suspect in last week's shootings. Louis Jourdain, 16, was arrested Sunday. Federal officials said last week they believed Jeff Weise had acted alone when he killed nine people before turning the gun on himself. Authorities have said little about the case since then. Tribal officials are rallying around Chairman Buck Jourdain and his family.

Red Lake, Minn. — Federal officials escorted Louis Jourdain, handcuffed and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, into a federal courtroom in Duluth Tuesday afternoon. His father entered the courtroom a few moments later. The hearing was closed to reporters, and court officials would not comment because it was a juvenile proceeding.

After a hearing of about 90 minutes, the Jourdains emerged. Louis looked downcast and didn't respond to questions from reporters. Buck politely declined comment.

Authorities began to suspect that Wiese may not have plotted the attack by himself after examining his computer, and e-mails Weise allegedly exchanged with Jourdain.

Unidentified law enforcement sources told the Washington Post that Jourdain was suspected of helping Weise plan the assault, and that Jourdain had expected to take part.

In a written statement issued Tuesday morning, Buck Jourdain said he strongly believes his son will be cleared of the charges. Jourdain said his son is "incapable of committing such an act." Jourdain called his son "a good boy with a good heart, who never harmed anyone."

The unthinkable happened last week, and so I guess we don't have limits on what is unthinkable anymore.
- Red Lake tribal secretary Judy Roy

Holly Cook is acting as press liaison for the Red Lake Tribe.

"The chairman asked me to relay to the public today that he is taking care of his family today and will not be available for further public comment," said Cook. "He is very concerned about his son, and I think his statement that we released covers the chairman's intent right now."

Few people on the reservation were willing to talk with reporters. Some said they were tired of all the media attention the reservation has been getting. One band member described the events of the past eight days as a nightmare, or something out of a Hollywood movie script.

Tribal secretary Judy Roy says people are still in shock over last week's shootings. Roy says the arrest of the chairman's son makes things all the more unbelievable.

"There is concern, there is anxiety," said Roy. "The unthinkable happened last week, and so I guess we don't have limits on what is unthinkable anymore."

Judy Roy says the Red Lake Nation is strong and will survive this latest challenge. She says tribal leaders are standing behind the chairman.

"We ask for prayers for him and his family, and they're facing a difficult time right now," said Roy. "What I am concerned about is that we do not rush to judgment, that we let the investigation take its course and not rush into any kind of hysteria."

Jourdain is getting support from some Native Americans outside the Red Lake Reservation. Ernie Stevens, Jr., who chairs the National Indian Gaming Association, arrived at Red Lake a few days ago and has attended several funerals. Stevens says he considers Buck Jourdain his brother. He says he trusts Chairman Jourdain is a strong leader who will do the right thing.

"I know the chairman, I think this community knows him. And I think they know he's a longstanding advocate for children and young people," said Stevens. "And being a young leader himself, I think he knows the responsibility. So I trust the chairman will resolve this concern in the best interest of his tribe, and most importantly, his family."

Federal investigators won't say whether they expect other arrests in the Red Lake school shooting incident. Authorities have reportedly interviewed a number of teens about the case. They've also confiscated several computers.