Tuesday, March 22, 2005

And You Keep Quiet and I Will Go

Yesterday was a sad day in Minnesota.

NY Times: 10 Are Dead After Rampage in Minnesota
Star Tribune: Seeking Answers After Shooting Rampage
Pioneer Press: FBI Offers Details in Red Lake School Shooting

There are so many thoughts going on in my head about what happened... I think the biggest thing is that I wonder if there was anything we can do as teachers to help prevent these kinds of things from happening! I know that sometimes teachers are the only stable adults in these kids' lives; that's a frightening though, especially with class sizes up to 35 and the varying needs for all. But I think it's important to take that time with the students.

I think it's also another kind of unfortunate that this happened on a reservation. It's kind of like when that Hmong man was shooting hunters back in the fall--I know there was a lot of reaction against the Hmong community after that. Some people are saying that reservation life is hard and while I recognize that (and studied it in many of my American Indian studies courses at the U), there were still 299 other kids that attended school in Red Lake, had hard lives, and didn't choose to pick up a gun and kill their guardians and classmates.

It's so horrifying that teaching would be a dangerous profession.

Here's one of the articles: (from the NY Times)

10 Are Dead in Minnesota After Rampage at School


Published: March 22, 2005

CHICAGO, March 22 - A high school student went on a shooting rampage on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota on Monday, killing his grandparents, five fellow students, a teacher and a security guard, as well as himself, the authorities said.

A dozen others were injured in the barrage, which erupted at the 300-student Red Lake High School about 3 p.m., officials said. The grandparents were apparently killed at their home earlier in the day, and the authorities were investigating whether guns used in the shooting were taken from the grandfather, a veteran officer on the tribal police force.

The chairman of the Red Lake tribe, Floyd Jourdain, Jr., said today in remarks broadcast on CNN that security guards were unable to stop the killing spree.

"There was security in place," said Mr. Jourdain. "And they did everything they could to stop the tragedy yesterday. And it was just beyond their control unfortunately and lives were lost."

Paul McCabe, an F.B.I. spokesman in Minneapolis, said at a briefing on Monday that investigators were working through the night. "It's still a very fluid investigation," he said.

He identified the gunman's grandfather as Daryl Lussier, a longtime officer with the Red Lake Police Department and said Mr. Lussier's guns may have been used in the shootings, The Associated Press reported.

The shooting was the worst at a school since 15 people were killed at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colo., in 1999, and came just 18 months after two students were fatally shot at Rocori High School in the central Minnesota town of Cold Spring, 200 miles away.

Roman Stately, director of the Red Lake Fire Department, told The A.P. and local television stations that the police found the grandparents' bodies an hour after the school shooting and that the young man used his grandfather's shotgun and two pistols in the rampage.

"Apparently, he walked out in the hallway shooting and then he entered a classroom," Mr. Stately told KARE-TV, the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul. "Shot several students and a teacher." He added, "And then himself."

Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota said in a news conference broadcast on television today that there would be a day of remembrance o for the victims. In a statement Monday evening, he expressed "profound sorrow" and extended "heartfelt prayers and condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this senseless tragedy."

Witnesses told The Pioneer, a newspaper in Bemidji, the nearest town, an hour's drive away, that the gunman was "grinning and waving" as he fired his weapon and that students pleaded with him to stop, according to The A.P.

"You could hear a girl saying, 'No, Jeff, quit, quit, leave me alone, what are you doing?' " The A.P. quoted Sondra Hegstrom, a student, as telling The Pioneer. "I looked him in the eye and ran in the room, and that's when I hid."

A teacher, Diane Schwanz, told The Pioneer that she herded students under benches as she dialed 911 on her cellphone.

"I just got on the floor and called the cops," she said.

Mr. McCabe said the victims at the high school were all found in one room. The dead teacher was a woman, he said, the security guard a man; four students, including the gunman, died at the scene and two more later at a hospital.

The Red Lake reservation, about 240 miles north of the Twin Cities and about 120 miles south of Canada, is home to about 5,000 Ojibwa Indians, commonly called Chippewa. The tribe operates three casinos and other tourist attractions on some half-million acres.

Clyde Bellecourt, founder of the Minneapolis-based American Indian Movement, said he could not "remember anything as tragic as this happening" on a reservation.

"Everyone in the Indian community is feeling really bad right now, whether they're a member of the Red Lake or not, we're all an extended family, we're all related," he said. "Usually this happens in places like Columbine, white schools, always somewhere else. We never hear that in our community."

Mr. Bellecourt and his brother Vernon, another longtime American Indian leader, said that the gunman's grandfather had been on the local police force for perhaps 35 years, and belonged to one of the tribe's most prominent and respected families.

"No one would ever think that that type of violence would visit itself in our communities, it's not part of our culture and our traditions, so we're kind of puzzled by it all," Vernon Bellecourt said.

"But our young people are not exempt from the same problems young people have across the country," he added, "so our communities are now being victimized by this same kind of violence."

Sherri Birkeland, a spokeswoman for North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji, said six of the injured were treated at her emergency room, two of them later airlifted to MeritCare Healthcare Systems in Fargo, N.D.

One of the remaining four died, Ms. Birkeland said, declining to release information about the conditions of the others or describe any injuries. The hospital was shut for several hours afterward, she said.

In Fargo, Carrie Johnson, a spokeswoman for MeritCare, said the first victim arrived by helicopter at 5:55 p.m.

Reporting for this article was contributed by Christine Hauser from New York; Mikkel Pates from Fargo; Kermit Pattison from Minneapolis; and Gretchen Reuthling from Chicago.

No comments: