Michelle Kingbird knew that Jeff Weise planned to shoot up Red Lake High School. The troubled 16-year-old teen told her so during an online chat a year ago, but she never told anyone because she didn't think he'd actually do it.
"I didn't believe him," said Kingbird, 13, a Red Lake seventh grader whose stepbrother, Ryan Auginash, 14, was among those seriously wounded in Monday's shooting spree that took 10 lives, including Weise's (see "FBI: Minnesota Shooter Acted Alone, Chose Victims At Random"). "I didn't think he would really do it. I didn't think he was that type of person."
Kingbird said Weise had once before spoken of shooting people at the school. "Just once," she said. "[Last] March he told me he was gonna do it on 4/20, and I didn't believe him." In an instant message to Kingbird, Weise said he had chosen the date (which also coincides with the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado) because it was the birthday of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and "Hitler was his hero" (see "High School Shooter Reportedly Admired Hitler, Was Previously Investigated").
Weise, whom Kingbird said had tried to commit suicide last month and been hospitalized and placed on antidepressant medication, never mentioned the Columbine murders to her. She said she didn't see him on Monday, but that they had chatted on the computer the day before.
When asked if she was angry with Weise for what he had done, Kingbird said, "No, he was my friend, but he also killed some of my friends, too. ... All the times I was sad he made me feel happy." And, despite his injuries, Ryan Auginash, also a friend of Weise's, has already forgiven the killer for his actions, according to his brother Andrew.
"He has a good heart," Andrew Auginash told The Associated Press. "He forgave the shooter," whom Ryan said he thought "just flipped out," according to Andrew. Like many of the kids, Andrew said, his brother is still shaken up by the shooting and "doesn't know if he wants to go to public school" anymore.
Weise introduced himself to Kingbird via MSN Messenger about a year ago under the handle decemberofsouls. He told her he was into heavy metal and warned her about his plans to shoot up the school.
TheSmokingGun.com reports that Weise's online activity also included posting a short animated movie called "Target Practice" in which a man shoots four people, blows up a police car and then puts a gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger. Another, titled "Clown," involves a clown strangling a person.
Kingbird was in the gymnasium of Red Lake High during the shooting, and even though she considered herself a friend of Weise's, she's confident that if he had seen her he would have shot her as well.
On Wednesday, officials gave updates on the three shooting victims at North County Health Services, the hospital that handled five of the wounded and one of the fatalities.
Cody Thunder, who received a gunshot wound to the hip, is in fair condition, though the bullet remains lodged.
Lance Crowe, 15, who received gunshot wounds to his left hand that fractured a bone, had surgery on Monday to repair the damage but sustained nerve damage on his left ring finger that doctors could not repair. He also has a bullet fragment in his left shoulder and fragments on the right side of his chest.
The right-handed point guard for the Red Lake High basketball team was in good spirits, and his doctors said he should be able to play basketball again. "Given the nature of the injury, he's very lucky," said Dr. Howard Hoody, who said Crowe also sustained a laceration on his chin.
The third victim, Auginash, suffered a single gunshot wound to the right side of his chest, with the bullet penetrating and damaging his lung. The bullet is lodged toward his back and has not yet been removed. "He is exceptionally lucky," said Dr. Dave Van Engelenhoven. "He seems confused. He's upset by what happened. There is no permanent physical damage."
All three are listed in fair condition.
If you ever see a student carrying a weapon, 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".