- BEMIDJI, MINN. -- Jeff Weise
had "a good relationship" with the grandfather he shot and killed
on Monday as prelude to his deadly assault on students and others at Red
Lake High School, according to relatives who are struggling to understand
what might have pushed the teenager from sometimes bizarre behavior to
mass murder and suicide.
- They have sifted through the traumas of his childhood:
his father's suicide, the car accident that left his mother with reduced
mental capacity, the shuttling between the Red Lake Reservation and the
Twin Cities, and the taunts of peers over his appearance, size and outsider
- They wondered, too, about medication he was supposedly
taking for depression, and a recent increase in his prescribed dosage.
- Lee Cook, director of the American Indian Cultural Center
at Bemidji State University and a first cousin to Sgt. Daryl (Dash) Lussier,
the grandfather, talked about the tragedy Thursday after meeting on the
reservation with Lussier's brother, three daughters and other family members.
- "The daughters said Jeff loved his grandfather,
and his grandfather loved him," Cook said. "There had never been
any serious differences or harsh words between them.
- "They were surprised by all of this, but they were
stunned he would shoot his grandfather."
- The .22-caliber rifle that Weise apparently used to kill
Lussier and his companion, Michelle Sigana, "might have been Dash's
rifle, one he kept around for the kids for hunting," Cook said.
- Dosage increased
- Weise's relatives "knew he had a problem with depression,
and they took him to treatment," Cook said. "He was getting counseling."
His medication dosage had been increased a week earlier, Cook added.
- His grandmother, Shelda Lussier, 54, said he saw a mental
health professional at Red Lake Hospital on Feb. 21, the same day his prescription
was refilled for 60 milligrams a day of Prozac, which he had been taking
since last summer, the Washington Post reported.
- Studies have linked Prozac and similar antidepressants
to a greater risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in kids. In October,
the Food and Drug Administration revised the drugs' packaging to warn health
professionals that they should closely monitor young patients when an antidepressant
is prescribed or the dose is changed.
- Prozac's manufacturer said monitoring patients being
treated for depression is critical, especially if they are children.
- Weise, in hundreds of postings attributed to him on the
Internet over the past year or so, noted that he was on antidepressants,
was going through therapy in Thief River Falls and had attempted suicide
at least once by cutting his wrists.
- In a posting in January, Weise also wrote of his regret
over not having ended his life and hinted that another attempt could be
on the way. Friends of Weise said this week that he had tried to kill himself
earlier this year.
- School officials and others have refused to discuss his
medical situation except to confirm that he was placed on "homebound
status" this year for an unspecified medical problem.
- Relatives also "knew he spent time on the Internet,
but they didn't really know what he was into there," Cook said, and
reports detailing Weise's postings on a Nazi website have them shaking
- Weise, under a variety of user names, also visited other
sites dealing with everything from government conspiracies to surviving
school shootings. Last fall he posted a bloody animated video on the Internet
in which four people are shot to death before the gunman shoots himself.
"He was brighter than usual and had a vocabulary more like a college
student than a 16-year-old," Cook said.
- School to school
- Weise also had a traumatic early childhood, moving from
school to school and experiencing the loss of both parents before he was
10 years old. His father, Daryl Lussier Jr., committed suicide in July
1997 during a police stand-off on the reservation. Weise's mother, Joanne,
suffered brain damage in 1999 when she and a friend crashed their car after
- Shortly after his father's suicide, Weise was enrolled
in the fourth grade at B.F. Pearson Elementary School in Shakopee in September
1997. He stayed until the first week of his fifth-grade year, at which
point he was withdrawn and enrolled at Bluff Creek Elementary School in
- Bluff Creek Principal Cath Gallagher said Weise left
school in April 1998, about a month after his mother's traffic accident.
- In his Internet postings, Weise said that before her
accident his mother would hit him often, yell at him and tell him that
his birth had been a mistake.
- According to his Internet writings, Weise dressed in
a Goth style with a long black coat, black boots and at times red hair
spiked into devil's horns.
- "I just don't know if anybody gave a lot of credence
to the turmoil this guy lived with," Cook said. People said he was
"just going through a phase" with his unusual appearance and
outsider attitudes, "and that probably was devastating to him."
- "I think you can get to the point where you feel
you have no relief. Maybe he thought his grandpa should have been more
cognizant of that."
- Visitation for Lussier and his girlfriend, Michelle Sigana,
began Thursday at the Humanities Building in Red Lake. Funeral services
for them will be held there at 10 a.m. Saturday.
- © 2005 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.