Jeff Weise's school notebook was covered with swastikas and a picture of Adolf Hitler. He scrawled images of bloodied bodies and guns and showed them to classmates. He had threatened to take his life. On the Internet, he wrote of anger and alienation, and posted a depiction of a clown strangling someone to death. "The clues," a step-aunt would say later, "were all there."
On the remote, close-knit Red Lake Indian Reservation, it seemed plenty of people knew that this was a deeply troubled 16-year-old boy. But no one could have imagined that his violent fantasies would turn real. Police say Weise last Monday shot his 58-year-old grandfather and the man's 32-year-old female companion before going on a shooting rampage at Red Lake High School. As screams filled the halls, Weise killed a 28-year-old security guard, a 62-year-old teacher and five fellow students, all 15, and then shot himself to death. "He had a mean face," said Cody Thunder, a student who was shot and wounded by Weise. "He didn't say anything."
The echoes of the 1999 Columbine massacre were chilling: the adoration of Hitler, the social isolation, the frightening Web postings, even the Goth clothing and trench coat. "He didn't have any buddies," said Thunder. School officials had sent Weise to a psychiatrist last year and put him on Prozac. They allowed him to be schooled at home with a teacher so he could get special attention and work through his emotional problems. Hidden among bogs and soaring pines, this Chippewa homeland seems a world apart from the white, middle-class enclaves of earlier school shootings. But for now, the Red Lake principal, Chris Dunshee, is left to lament, "We have joined a tragic fraternity."
Troubles had haunted Weise since he was a little boy. In 1997 his father, Daryl Lussier Jr., killed himself during a standoff with police on the reservation. At the time, he was living in Minneapolis with his mother, Joanne Weise. But when she suffered a brain injury in a car accident in 1999, he was sent to live with relatives back on the rez. He went from living in a big city to a place with only 5,000 people scattered across a region the size of Rhode Island. He never seemed to fit.
Other kids teased him for his size (six feet tall, 250 pounds), his black clothing and his occasional use of eye makeup. He usually wandered alone. Red Lake High is a basketball-worshiping school, where fans pack the gym for their beloved Warriors, clad in the team colors of red, white and black. But Weise, a loner, spent much of his time in front of a computer. On one site he wrote that he was "excluded from everything" other kids would do. He sometimes used the screen names nativenazi and todesengel, which translates from German to "angel of death." He wrote that his mother was an alcoholic who was sometimes abusive. He wrote with admiration of Hitler, quoting that "the law of existence requires uninterrupted killing."
Six months ago, he posted a disturbing animated short under the alias Regret. It was titled "Target Practice." It showed a man with a rifle shooting people, then putting a pistol in his mouth and firing. It was a preview, it seems clear, of the doomsday coming to Red Lake.