Thursday, October 30, 2014
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Authorities search for gun at Red Lake High School

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Authorities search the roof of the Red Lake High School on Thursday. The FBI says it's looking for a gun. (MPR Photo/Dan Gunderson)
Red Lake school district officials have postponed the opening of the high school. The FBI says it got a tip that there may be a gun hidden somewhere in the building. The announcement Thursday also led school officials to postpone a healing ceremony planned for Friday.

Red Lake, Minn. — FBI spokesman Paul McCabe released no other details, except to say that FBI agents, Red Lake tribal police and agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs were searching the high school building. Carol Aenne, Red Lake's acting superintendent, says she learned of the news Thursday morning.

"They called me this morning and they said not to have activities in the middle school and high school tomorrow, because of a continuing threat," Aenne said. "And they said that I can release that they believe there is a gun in the high school."

Aenne says the news has frustrated school administrators, who had looked forward to getting high school students back to classes Monday. But she says at least they know why authorities are searching the school.

"Telling us that, we can at least zero in on what it is they are looking for, and our imaginations won't go crazy on us," Aenne said.

Aenne says as of now, elementary and middle school students will resume classes on Monday as scheduled. A healing ceremony that was set for Friday at the high school will now take place on Monday. She says the plan is for regular classes at the high school to resume Tuesday. But Aenne says the school district is prepared to change that plan, if necessary.

"We want it to be as safe as we can possibly make it for the kids. We're grateful that the FBI is working on this, and that they're taking care of our safety as far as allowing us in the buildings," said Aenne. "We're flexible and we need to be, and we're looking forward to getting back into those buildings."

The buildings have been closed since March 21, when gunman Jeff Weise opened fire at the school, killing five students, a teacher and a security guard before turning the gun on himself. Earlier that day, Weise killed his grandfather and his grandfather's partner.

Days later, the news came out that the 16-year-old son of Tribal Chairman Buck Jourdain was accused of being involved in the attack. Louis Jourdain remains in federal custody.

Red Lake school board member Jodie Beaulieu says the past three weeks have been exhausting. Beaulieu says this latest twist makes it even worse.

"It's just hard. It's really hard, because it's like a rollercoaster of emotions and, you know, it's really unsettling," Beaulieu said. "Just when we thought that we could have some semblance of getting back and getting the kids back, you know, it's back to square one again."

Beaulieu says she and other tribal members are getting strength from the wisdom of their elders, and from their traditional spiritual beliefs.

"Things happen for a reason, you know. And us not being able to go in there tomorrow, then so be it. But we will be back. And we'll be back even stronger, because this has pulled the community together," says Beaulieu.

Teachers, parents and students gathered at the Red Lake Humanities Center Thursday to get reacquainted and to continue the process of healing. One teacher described the turnout as light.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials were expected to continue their search of the high school through the night and into Friday morning.

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