April 18, 2005
U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger also criticized news organizations for printing what he called "speculation and rumor," and promised to find and prosecute officials leaking information to the press.
Minneapolis, Minn. — The FBI confirmed Jeff Weise had already killed his grandfather and his grandfather's companion before arriving at the Red Lake High School at 2:49 p.m. on March 21. FBI Special Agent Michael Tabman says within seconds, Weise shot school security guard Derrick Brun twice, killing him.
Tabman says less than two minutes after driving his grandfather's police vehicle to the school building, Weise entered the classroom where he killed a teacher and five students.
"He was in that classroom for approximately one and a half minutes. From there, for approximately five minutes, Weise wandered the school, where he took some random shots into classrooms as well as shooting other students, some of whom were injured but not fatally," Tabman says.
Federal officials credit the school's emergency plan for keeping Weise from entering more classrooms.
Tabman says it was at this time Weise encountered tribal police who had entered the building.
"At 2:57 p.m., Weise was engaged in an exchange of gunfire with responding police officers. During the exchange, the officers were not struck. Weise was struck three times. Once in the lower back area, once in the leg area, and a third time in the right arm," says Tabman.
Tabman says Weise returned to the original classroom and took his own life. He says in all, Weise fired about 45 shots inside the school, mostly from his grandfather's handgun. Weise fired eight shots from the 12-gauge shotgun he also took from his grandfather.
Tabman says Weise planned the shooting, but didn't target specific people. He says Weise was the only gunman, but an investigation continues into who else might have known about the shooting beforehand.
Tabman says investigators have interviewed 400 people and checked 117 computers, looking in part for communications that might reveal a conspiracy.
Tabman was joined by U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger, who praised security guard Brun for putting his duty to the school and its occupants ahead his own safety. He says Brun's decision to confront Weise undoubtedly saved lives.
But Heffelfinger was critical of reporters and unnamed federal officials who talked to them about details of the case. He says some accounts printed or broadcast by news organizations are false and inaccurate.
"The publishing of this false information and rumor has hindered the investigation, endangered the rights of individuals," says Heffelfinger. "And worst of all, harmed in a further way the people of Red Lake by creating an atmosphere of fear and suspicion, hindering the community's ability to heal, interfering with the return of students to Red Lake High School and violating the privacy rights of individual tribal members."
Heffelfinger says his office is working to catch whoever is leaking information to reporters, which he says is a federal crime.
"We are actively looking into these leaks. And when we determine the source of these leaks we will take all appropriate criminal action, including, but not limited to, prosecution for obstruction of justice."
Heffelfinger refused to comment about the investigation into the role Louis Jordain, 16, played in relation to the shooting, saying federal law prevents him from talking about juvenile suspects.
Anonymous sources first revealed to reporters Jordain, the son of tribal chairman Buck Jordain, was arrested. The elder Jordain has since confirmed the fact and maintains his son's innocence. Heffelfinger says only that a juvenile has been arrested.