Gun-Laden Teen Kills Seven at Minnesota High School

REDBY, Minn. (AP) - A heavily armed teen accused of killing his grandparents later smiled and waved during a rampage at a high school as he gunned down seven more people, brushing off pleas to stop and asking one of his victims whether he believed in God.

Reggie Graves, a student at Red Lake High School, said he was watching a movie about Shakespeare in class Monday when he heard the gunman blast his way past the metal detector at the school's entrance, killing a guard.

Then, in a nearby classroom, he heard the gunman say something to his friend Ryan: "He asked Ryan if he believed in God," Graves said. "And then he shot him."

The rampage at Red Lake Indian Reservation in far northern Minnesota was the nation's worst school shooting since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 that left 13 people dead.

"There's not a soul that will go untouched by the tragic loss that we've experienced here." Floyd Jourdain Jr., chairman of the Red Lake Chippewa Tribe, told WCCO-TV of Minneapolis on Tuesday.

When the rampage was over, 10 people were dead, including the gunman's grandfather; a woman who may have been his grandfather's wife or girlfriend; a school security guard; a teacher; and five other students. At least 14 others were wounded, officials said.

Police said the gunman killed himself after exchanging fire with officers.

"We ask Minnesotans to help comfort the families and friends of the victims who are suffering unimaginable pain by extending prayers and expressions of support," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said.

Officials did not identify the shooter, but several students said he was Jeff Weise, a teen who may or may not have been a student at the school. Accounts of Weise's age varied from 15 to 17.

During the rampage, teachers herded students from one room to another, trying to move away from the sound of the shooting, said Graves, 14. He said some students crouched under desks.

Some pleaded with the gunman to stop. "You could hear a girl saying, 'No, Jeff, quit, quit. Leave me alone. What are you doing?"' Sondra Hegstrom told The Pioneer of Bemidji.

Student Ashley Morrison said she heard shots, then saw the gunman's face peering though a door window of a classroom where she was hiding with several other students. After banging at the door, the shooter walked away and she heard more shots, she said.

"I can't even count how many gunshots you heard, there was over 20 ... there were people screaming, and they made us get behind the desk," she said.

FBI spokesman Paul McCabe said the gunman exchanged gunfire with Red Lake police in a hallway, then retreated to a classroom, where he was believed to have shot himself.

All of the dead students were found in one room, including the teen believed to be the shooter. Red Lake Fire Director Roman Stately said the gunman had two handguns and a shotgun.

Relatives told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Weise was a loner who usually wore black and was teased by other kids. Relatives told the newspaper his father committed suicide four years ago, and that his mother was living in a Minneapolis nursing home because she suffered brain injuries in a car accident.

Some of the injured were being cared for in Bemidji, about 20 miles south of Red Lake. Authorities closed roads to the reservation in far northern Minnesota while they investigated the shootings.

Police officers were posted at the hospital Monday night to discourage reporters from entering. When a reporter approached three men walking across a hospital parking lot, one broke down in tears, and the others said they had no comment.

The school was evacuated after the shootings and locked down for the investigation, McCabe said.

Jourdain, the tribal chairman, called it "without a doubt the darkest hour" in the group's history. "There has been a considerable amount of lives lost, and we still don't know the total of that," Jourdain said.

It was the nation's worst school shooting since two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 23 before killing themselves on April 20, 1999.

The rampage in Red Lake was the second fatal school shooting in Minnesota in 18 months. Two students were killed at Rocori High School in Cold Spring in September 2003. Student John Jason McLaughlin, who was 15 at the time, awaits trial in the case.

Red Lake High School has about 300 students, according to its Web site.

The reservation is about 240 miles north of the Twin Cities. It is home to the Red Lake Chippewa Tribe, one of the poorest in the state. According to the 2000 census, 5,162 people lived on the reservation, and all but 91 were Indians.