A week after the first arrest in the Red Lake High School shootings, officials said that "up to 20 kids" may have known about the plot and were possibly involved in it. And the horror-core rapper whose music was said to be an inspiration for 16-year-old shooter Jeff Weise said his music is not to blame for the violent attack.
During a meeting of the Red Lake School Board on Friday, Captain DeWayne Dow of the Red Lake Indian Reservation Police urged the board to keep the school closed until officials can assure the students' safety as the investigation continues, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
At the meeting, school Superintendent Stuart Desjarlait told the board that the FBI has taken 30 to 40 computers from the high school for a forensic audit. "There are still students out there that we don't know how much they were involved," Desjarlait said.
So far, only 16-year-old Louis Jourdain, the son of the tribe's chairman, has been arrested in connection with the attacks that killed 10, including Weise (see "Teen Charged In Connection To Red Lake High School Shootings").
While Dow would not elaborate on what he told the board, Sherri May, the school board secretary, told The New York Times that Dow said the investigation continues, and as many as 20 other students are thought to have at least known something about the plot (see "Red Lake Shooter, Alleged Accomplice Were Members Of Clique Called 'The Darkers' ").
FBI agents interviewed friends and acquaintances of Weise last week and examined a number of computers on the reservation, checking e-mail messages to and from Weise, according to the Times.
Red Lake High Principal Chris Dunshee said he doubted that the number of people involved was as high as 20. "There's no doubt that's the rumor," he told the paper. "But I really don't think that's going to be substantiated. Let's put it this way: I would be very surprised if that many knew ... I think the concern is closer to five or six people may have known something."
Citing an unnamed law-enforcement official, The Washington Post reported that as many as four other students, including Weise and Jourdain, may have planned the attack, while another dozen might have heard about it. Officials are still trying to figure out if any of the others were involved enough to be charged in the case.
The three-hour board meeting to determine when to reopen the school and how to make it safe ended with the decision to reopen the district's elementary schools on April 11, according to the Pioneer Press. The board will meet again on Wednesday to decide when middle and high school classes will restart, with some speculating that the high school/middle school might not open again until the fall, due to the extensive damage from the attack.
Weise was said to be a fan of San Francisco rapper Mars — whose lyrics are drenched in bloody, violent images — but the MC said he's not to blame for how people react to his music (see "Minnesota High School Shooter Lived Troubled, Lonely Life"). "I write a lot of crazy lyrics, but there's something wrong about anyone who blurs the line between reality and entertainment," Mars told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "Maybe it inspired him, but no one knows what was going on in Jeff Weise's mind."
The rapper, whose most recent album is called Some Girls Deserve to Die, said his site is often visited by "a bunch of crazy kids" who are obsessed with writing about "suicide, murder, guns. But to get to a place where you do something, you have to be kind of crazy, pretty warped as a person. Stuff like this is going to happen. My responsibility as an artist is not to change my lyrics to something soft and poppy. What about teachers, principals and parents? They had some responsibility, and they're the ones who could have saved this kid."
An unsigned post on Mars' Web site said his label, Mad Insanity Records, does not condone the killings and emphasizes that "the music released by this label is for entertainment purposes."
Another rapper, Prozak of the group Project: Deadman, whose 2004 album Self Inflicted featured the title track, "Last Breath" and "Body Bag," also complained about being linked to Weise.
"Yes, it is extremely violent, but you can go to Blockbuster and rent a comedy or a musical or an extremely violent horror film," the rapper said, "You can find violence everywhere, but every time there's a tragedy involving a teen, it becomes a witch hunt against rap."
If you ever see a student carrying a weapon or hear talk of plans for violence, you can anonymously call (866) SPEAK-UP toll free and the tip will be forwarded to the proper local authorities.
For more information, see "How You Can Help Prevent Another School Shooting."