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Hundreds Attend Minn. Victims’ Funerals

March 26, 2005

RED LAKE, Minn. (AP) _ With the bang of a drum and a high-pitched wail, the first funerals began Saturday for victims of the shootings on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in which 10 people died.

A lone man’s sad cry gave way to songs and more drumming from a circle of a dozen men and soon hundreds of people who had gathered in the community center began filing past a pair of open caskets.

Daryl Lussier, 58, a tribal police officer, and his longtime companion Michelle Sigana, 31, were the first victims in Monday’s attack by his grandson, Jeff Weise, 16.

More than 100 police officers attended the service for Lussier and Sigana, along with Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Norm Coleman. Every seat in the community center _ bleachers, cafeteria tables, freestanding chairs _ was taken.

After killing the pair in their home on the northern Minnesota reservation, Weise went to Red Lake High School, where he killed five students, a teacher and a security guard before shooting himself.

A third funeral, for 15-year-old Chase Lussier, was also planned Saturday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

While investigators say they don’t know Weise’s motive, a long trail of Internet postings paint a picture of a deeply depressed, suicidal boy. Friends and family members have said he had been taking the anti-depressant Prozac since a suicide scare last summer.

Family members told the New York Times that Weise’s dose was recently increased to 60 milligrams a day.

``I can’t help but think it was too much, that it must have set him off,″ an aunt, Tammy Lussier, told the paper.

Outside the Red Lake community center, which shares space with the Red Lake Band of Chippewa’s Seven Clans Casino, an electronic sign flashed a message: ``Red Lake Nation sends heartfelt condolences to all family members of tragic event. We are one in our sorrow and in our love.″

On Saturday, President Bush made his first public comments on the shooting, praising a security guard credited with saving some students by confronting Weise. Bush said he and first lady Laura Bush were praying for the victims.

The Red Lake school isn’t expected to reopen until next month.

It was the worst U.S. school shooting since the April 1999 rampage Columbine High School in Colorado, which ended in the deaths of 12 students, a teacher and two teen gunmen.

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