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Archive for Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Shooter sought friends at Nazi sites

March 23, 2005

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— The messages came just after midnight -- half-plea, half-boast.

The troubled teenager from an American Indian reservation in Minnesota wanted to know whether he was too young to join an Aryan supremacist group and, more poignantly, whether the group would accept a nonwhite Native American such as himself.

In those early notes posted a year ago to the Web site www.nazi.org, the writer, who identified himself as Jeff Weise from the Red Lake reservation, sounded like a lost boy who had finally found some friends.

What he really seemed to crave was validation. The group's acceptance prompted Weise to confide in the others, even though the teenager seemed aware of the irony of an Ojibwe youth making common cause with Aryan supremacists.

Red Lake school officials had accused him of planning to shoot up the school last year on April 20, Hitler's birthday, Weise wrote. He was angry to have been unfairly picked on, but he proved them correct 11 months later.

Authorities said Weise, 16, killed nine people and himself in a brief but bloody rampage Monday, apparently gunning down victims at random. The FBI on Tuesday offered no motive and declined to comment on Weise's links to supremacist groups, but it said investigators were exploring all avenues.

Weise's father had killed himself a few years earlier, said Audrey Thayer, a family friend who lives in nearby Bemidji. Media reports said Weise's mother was in a nursing home with head injuries suffered in a car accident, and Thayer said the youth lived with his grandfather, a well-regarded police sergeant in Red Lake. The family, like others in the community, struggled with money and with the clash between American Indian and white cultures, Thayer said.

"It is a young person desperately needing to feel community," she said of the shootings. Teenagers such as Weise are "looking for where they are going to get heard."

Weise was heard on the supremacist Web site, where he called himself Todesengel, German for "angel of death." One member told him, "We welcome you, brother."

In a statement Tuesday, the shadowy supremacist group that befriended Weise said it "refused to wring hands" over the tragedy, contending that the shooting justified its core beliefs in "eugenics, racial separation and removal of elements hostile to a healthy society." Its members confirmed Weise's use of the Internet ID.

Weise expressed the belief that intermixing cultures and blood had stripped native tribes of their language and traditions. Much of Weise's anger was directed at fellow teenagers in Red Lake who he felt were unduly influenced by black culture.

"As a result of cultural dominance and interracial mixing, there is barely any full blooded Natives left," Weise wrote in a posting in July, which the Nazi group made public Tuesday. "Where I live less than 1% of all the people on the Reservation can speak their own language, and among the youth wanting to be black has run ramped (rampant)."

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