Monday, March 4, 2024
Go to Red Lake shootings
Red Lake shootings
Troubled teen kills nine, and himself, in Red Lake
Recounting the horror of the shootings
Red Lake stunned by shootings, and by spotlight
Starting the long process of healing
Political leaders mourn Red Lake deaths
Band members in the Twin Cities grieve from a distance
Searching for reasons behind school shootings
A glimpse into the life of Jeff Weise
Shooting shows benefits, limits of school safety plans
Red Lake shooting stirs memories at Rocori High School
More from MPR


It's back to school for Red Lake High students
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Brittaney Lewis, left, lost her brother DuWayne in the shooting. She says she never wants to go back to Red Lake High School. Her mother, Donna, right, says she won't let her children, or her grandchildren, go back to the school. (MPR Photo/Tom Robertson)
A federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the shooting investigation at Red Lake told the Associated Press that investigators are looking at a possible group of nine people who may been co-conspirators in the attack. The source said a larger group of people may have known what teenage gunman Jeff Weise was planning. This new twist comes on the day when Red Lake High School students returned to classes for the first time since the March 21st shootings that claimed 10 lives.

Red Lake, Minn. — School officials say about 90 students showed up for school Tuesday. That's less than one-third of the 330 students enrolled at the school.

Principal Chris Dunshee says he wasn't disappointed with the turnout. In fact, like any public school, Red Lake has a rather transient student population that made for some new faces.

"We actually had two or three new students enrolled today, so that was a positive. And I think as the days proceed here, we're looking for more kids to come back," Dunshee said.

School administrators and tribal law enforcement officials say they have no specific knowledge of the federal investigation. A federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press Tuesday that investigators are looking at two groups: A co-conspirator group of up to nine people, and a larger group of people who may have had some prior knowledge of an attack because Weise talked about it.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there's no suggestion of criminal behavior in the larger group but the students might have useful information.

Pat Mills, director of the tribe's public safety department, says people are worried there could be more violence.

They tore my heart out. They took my baby, that's all I know. And he was all the love I had. I don't think my hate will ever go away.
- Donna Lewis, mother of shooting victim DeWayne Lewis

"It's a fear that goes through my mind, too. Could this happen again? Yes it can. It could happen today," said Mills. "And I'm sure, you know, everybody that was here when it happened is thinking of that."

Some of the students who chose not to go back Tuesday said they just weren't ready. Ninth grader Lance Crow of Ponemah visited a memorial set up on a fence outside the school. He had few words for reporters. His grandmother, Margaret Crow, says Lance is still traumatized.

"He'd seen what happened in that class. Do you think you'd want to come back when you see something like that?" asked Crowe. "You seen all his buddies laying on the floor, and these two girls."

Some teachers said the kids who showed up for school were happy to be back. Sheila Horn, who teaches geography and history, says things probably won't ever be quite the same.

"Normal? That depends on your definition of normal. Back to the way they were, the lives that were lost here and the things that happened, will never be forgotten," Horn said. "But normal in the sense that, will kids come back here and continue to be educated in the best way that we as teachers can educate them? Absolutely."

For Horn and other teachers, it won't quite be business as usual. For this year, state and federal education officials have granted waivers from standardized testing requirements. Students won't be penalized if they're not yet ready to come back to school, and won't have to make up all the days they've been out.

Jeff Weise killed seven people at the high school that day, before turning the gun on himself. The victims included three students from the remote tribal village of Ponemah.

Brittaney Lewis, 17, of Ponemah lost her brother DuWayne. Instead of going to school, Brittaney visited the memorial outside the school. She said nothing will bring back her brother.

"He was really a smart boy. He had a lot of plans. A lot of plans just taken away from him just like that," she said.

Brittaney says she never wants to go back to Red Lake High School. Her mother, Donna, says she'd never let her children, or her grandchildren, go back to the school.

"They tore my heart out. And I know for a fact I ain't never stepping foot in that school," Donna Lewis said. "They took my baby, that's all I know. And he was all the love I had. I don't think my hate will ever go away."

Classes at Red Lake High School will continue this week on a half-day schedule. Teachers will meet on Friday to decide whether or not they'll return to full days next week. Security at the school will continue to be tight. Tribal officers and Bureau of Indian Affairs agents are patrolling the hallways.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)